My brother, Doug, is celebrating a birthday today. And for some reason, which is not too unusual for me, I was daydreaming about growing up together. We also have another brother, Ken, whose birthday is in August, but today is Doug’s special day. I am the eldest, Doug is the middle child and Ken is the youngest of the three of us.
I guess I haven’t heard the expression as much lately, probably because we don’t have any of our children still at home, but I distinctly remember my grandparents referring to the “birthday boy” whenever one of the three of us had our annual day of celebration. Generally, Mom would cook our favorite meal and Grandpa and Grandpa would come over for dessert – a homemade birthday cake that Mom had specially baked earlier in the day.
Doug and I never cared for much of the same stuff. I liked tomato soup – he liked cream of celery. I liked beef – he was more of a pork guy. I liked blue – he tended toward green. In fact, there wasn’t much at all that we had in common. In fact, he had blond hair and mine was brown. He was right handed – I was left handed. We only really had one thing in common – blue eyes.
Our taste didn’t really match either. We liked different sorts of patterns and ran in different circles at school. Being the oldest, I worked within the “system” while Doug pushed the bounds with our Dad year after year. I was closer to Dad – Doug was closer to Mom. For years, these differences really drew us apart. But as we get older, there is some sort of stronger bond between us than there ever was before. I’m sure that you have noticed that Ken isn’t mentioned as much here as one might have thought. However, Doug and I were very close in age, while Ken was seven years my junior, so in a way, he had quite a different experience growing up than Doug and I did.
I think as we age, Doug and I have grown much closer. Oddly, we don’t see each other very often and although he is only 4 hours away from me, I haven’t seen him in more than a year – closer to two, in fact. But the thing that has really helped our relationship is the fact that we don’t compete with each other like we did when we were growing up – well, at least we don’t compete much…
In our own way, we have each made contributions in our respective fields – Doug as a well known surgeon and OB/GYN, while I have been more active in the business and ministry communities. While Doug has also been very successful as a speculator and investor in real estate, I have worked in organizations and consulting practices to achieve my successes. You can tell that we are quite different, but there is something foundational that draws us together.
That is the same way it should be in our dealings with fellow believers. While Doug is my genetic brother, the Bible is very quick to point out that the word “brother” can also be used to describe others who have a professed belief in Christ as our Lord and Savior. The apostle Paul was quick to refer to many people as his brother, sister or son, words of acknowledgment as being members of the same “family” – the family of Christ. And just like I have been drawn closer to Doug throughout the years, in spite of our many differences, I have also settled in to a stronger bond with others who have been saved. I guess the whole concept is something I have become increasingly comfortable with over the years. I know the “ropes” and what to expect – I’m not worried about making a wrong move or wondering what to do next. And there isn’t any competition with God.
The verse for this evening is from 1 John 3:10, “This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.” My encouragement this evening is to take a moment to appreciate our brothers and sisters – the nuclear ones as well as our brothers and sisters “in Christ”. My prayer is that throughout the years, you will continue to grow closer to all of them, just as I have. Happy Birthday, Doug. God Bless You! Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…