Devotion to a Brother or Sister Cannot Set You Back

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“The Bible says that you should go with a brother twice as far as he asks. It certainly does not suggest that you set him back on his journey. Devotion to a brother cannot set you back either. (T52)”

Affirmation: “Devotion to a brother cannot set me back”


1 – Masculine and Feminine Gender in ACIM

A “brother” in A Course in Miracles always includes brothers and sisters, and it means a companion, another person in this world who needs our compassion. (A Course in Miracles was scribed in the sixties, and inclusive gender language had not yet become inherent in our writing. This aspect of ACIM has become controversial, especially among younger students/teachers.) A brother or sister is someone in the world who may need us in ways that we can answer, or who may need us in ways that we cannot answer. ACIM recommends tolerance of differences, but in no way does ACIM imply that one is to disregard one’s own better instincts in order to cater to a brother or sister. We may walk farther along a pathway, due to the tolerance that we are encouraged to adopt, but we do not do anything to lengthen the journey that our brother or sister has set upon. After all, all of us are on a “journey without distance” (from ACIM), and we do not actually have to “go” anywhere at all to find our way to the spark of divinity which is within.

“The journey to God is merely the reawakening of the knowledge of where you are always, and what you are forever. It is a journey without distance to a goal that has never changed. (T-8.VI.9)”

2 – Go the Extra Mile

It is important to note here that we are to follow the biblical injunction of going the distance with our brother. We are to go the extra mile. But we are not encouraged to send our brother searching alone for his (or her) pathway; we are to help him in the best way that we know how. This best way may not always be apparent. Sometimes we can help best by stepping back, and only smiling at him (or her); this is stated in the Manual of ACIM We are bade to pay attention to what our brother is ready for. And this may not be readily apparent, and so we need to think carefully before we act. If we ourselves cannot be hurt by a brother (and we cannot be), then we have nothing to fear from him–even when he misunderstands us. We may need to absence ourselves from him in such cases, though. Though A Course in Miracles does not say so, sometimes absence from the picture is a loving thing to do. We are not the right person for every other person, because we differ radically in our personalities (from the Manual of ACIM). Our personalities are quite distinct.

3 – No Lost Ground

Also important to this passage is the fact that our devotion to our brother cannot cause us to lose ground. Our pathway, according to ACIM, is found in our devotion to our brother, rather than through long periods of contemplation. Our way, according to the Course, is forgiveness, which leads to love, of our brother. Forgiveness of our brother will lead us to Awakening. So will contemplation, though Jesus states that this other way can be tedious, and we are encouraged to follow our way, which A Course in Miracles spells out in abundant detail.

4 – We Don’t Lose by Helping

If it seems that we have walked farther along our metaphorical pathway than our brother, know that if he/she has been “given” to us, then our companionship with him/her will not set us on a longer pathway home. Each of us is given certain others to whom we can fulfill a teaching role, and this occurs even if we are new students of A Course in Miracles. As soon as we have answered the call, these others will begin seeking us. We will know internally which new faces surrounding us really need us in some way that we can fulfill. And this may take patience. Not everyone is ready at the point of introduction. But if we stay in close touch with the Answer (the Holy Spirit), we will be led in how to conduct a given relationship. Our own desires for special relationships will fall away as we seek to make each encounter holy. And our ongoing special relationships will turn holy (though this may not be without pain).

5 – We Are Here for Each Other

What better way can we spend an eternity than to “be there” for our brothers and sisters? In A Course in Miracles, this is both our primary purpose and our means of salvation leading even unto Awakening. Forgiveness of our brother and sister is the means that we use. Remember that we do not pardon real offenses; our brother and sister are innocent creatures who are doing the best that they can. They may misinterpret the signals that we give, and, if so, it is for us to pull back. But forgiveness remains the central means that we move from fear to love in ACIM. And forgiveness means that even when we get our signals crossed with a brother or sister, we are encouraged still to be loving to that individual. Knowing what to do, and when, takes great skill, and we can never succeed in this tricky business without the guidance that the Holy Spirit prompts.


Dear Father,

May I be the best companion to my brother. This will mean that I am there for him when he needs me. I will walk along the pathway with him.

May I recognize that devotion to my brother cannot cause me to lose ground in the quest for salvation. Devotion to my brother is the way spelled out in A Course in Miracles. Thank you for these words of encouragement and advice.


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