Suggested Reading: Nehemiah 5:1-8
In spite of the fact that he couldn't speak with an English accent, my favorite Robin Hood movie of all time is Kevin Costner's Robin Hood: Price of Thieves. While many of the relationships change throughout the course of the movie, the relationship which changes most dramatically is the relationship between Robin and Will Scarlett. From the moment Will Scarlett is introduced, the viewer can tell that he hates Robin, that he loathes him. Seemingly before he has any reason, Will would just as soon slit Robin's throat as acknowledge him as leader of their band of merry men. But all of that changes when Will is released by the Sherriff of Nottingham to track down and kill Robin Hood.
When Will appears in the woods where Robin and Little John are burying their dead and trying to regroup, Robin is ready to let John kill Will as a traitor. But when Will reveals that he is Robin's half-brother, the son of the woman who comforted Robin's widowed father, everything changes. Robin grabs Will and hugs him closely and says, "I will stand with you. Side by side to the end." In that one moment, when Robin realizes that Will is family, a precious treasure he thought he had lost, everything changes.
Back in Nehemiah chapter 5, when Nehemiah was forced to confront the nobles and officials who had been exploiting the people, listen to the language he used, "You are exacting usury from your own countrymen! As far as possible, we have bought back our Jewish brothers who were sold to the Gentiles. Now you are selling your brothers, only for them to be sold back to us!" (Nehemiah 5:7-8, ESV). "Your own countrymen." "Our Jewish brothers." "Your brothers." Nehemiah wanted to remind these nobles and officials that the people they were exploiting were their family. Not only were they members of the same ethnic group, but they were all descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. They had all been adopted as God's chosen people. They were family. And family is supposed to treat each other right, even if they don't treat anybody else right.
Unfortunately, we often get that backwards. We treat everybody else right but treat the members of our own family badly. And it can get even worse when we talk about members of our church family. Too many of us rarely stop to think about the fact that the people we are supposed to worship, work, and witness with are family -- that we are all brothers and sisters in Christ, adopted by the same Heavenly Father. We should treat our family well. We should cut them more slack than we do because they are our family. We should go out of our way to be understanding and forgiving, to be supportive and considerate.
We should treat our families, both physical and spiritual, well. We should be able to say to one another, like Robin said to Will Scarlett, "I will stand with you. Side by side to the end."