Kingdom development Brotherly Love
Kingdom development Brotherly Love
The first five virtues pertain to one’s inner life and his relationship to God. The last two relate to others. Brotherly kindness translates the Greek philadelphian, a fervent practical caring for others (1 John 4:20). Peter already urged this attitude on his readers in his first epistle (1 Peter 1:22; cf. Rom. 12:10; 1 Thes. 4:9; Heb. 13:1).
7. Whereas brotherly kindness is concern for others’ needs, love (agapēn) is desiring the highest good for others. This is the kind of love God exhibits toward sinners (John 3:16; Rom. 5:8; 1 John 4:9–11).
Interestingly this “symphony” begins with faith and ends with love. Building on the foundation of faith in Christ, believers are to exhibit Christlikeness by supplying these seven qualities that climax in love toward others (cf. faith and love in Col. 1:4–5; 1 Thes. 1:3; 2 Thes. 1:3; Phile. 5).
1:7 Brotherly kindness identifies us to the world as Christ’s disciples: “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).
Love of the brethren leads to love for all mankind. This is not primarily a matter of the emotions but of the will. It is not a sentimental exhilaration to experience but a commandment to obey. In the NT sense, love is supernatural. An unbeliever cannot love as the Bible commands because he does not have divine life. It takes divine life to love one’s enemies and to pray for one’s executioners. Love manifests itself in giving. For instance, “God so loved the world, that He gave …” (John 3:16). “Christ also loved the church and gave …” (Eph. 5:25). We can show our love by giving our time, our talents, our treasures, and our lives for others.
T. E. McCully was the father of Ed McCully, one of five young missionaries slain by Auca Indians in Ecuador. One night as we were on our knees together, he prayed, “Lord, let me live long enough to see those fellows saved who killed our boys, that I may throw my arms around them and tell them I love them because they love my Christ.” That is Christian love—when you can pray like that for the guilty murderers of your son.
These seven graces make a full-orbed Christian character.
(7) To this piety must be added brotherly affection. The word is philadelphia, which literally means love of the brethren. The point is this—there is a kind of religious devotion which separates individuals from one another. The claims of other people become an intrusion on our prayers, our study of God’s word and our meditation. The ordinary demands of human relationships become a nuisance. Epictetus, the great Stoic philosopher, never married. Half-jokingly, he said that he was doing far more for the world by being a philosopher without any ties than if he had produced ‘two or three dirty-nosed children’. ‘How can he who has to teach mankind run to get something in which to heat the water to give the baby his bath?’ What Peter is saying is that there is something wrong with the religion which finds the claims of personal relationships a nuisance.
Failure to persevere in the development of Christian character leads to barrenness, unfruitfulness, blindness, shortsightedness, and forgetfulness.
Barrenness. Only the life lived in fellowship with God can be truly effective. The guidance of the Holy Spirit eliminates barren activity and insures maximum efficiency. Otherwise, we are shadow-boxing, or sewing without thread.
Unfruitfulness. It is possible to have considerable knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ and yet to be unfruitful in that knowledge. Failure to practice what we know leads inevitably to barrenness. Inflow without outgo killed the Dead Sea, and it kills productivity in the spiritual realm as well.
1:9 Shortsightedness. There are various degrees of impaired vision which are spoken of as blindness. Shortsightedness here specifies the form of blindness in which man lives for the present rather than the future. He is so occupied with material things that he neglects the spiritual.
Blindness. Whoever lacks the seven characteristics listed in verses 5–7 is blind. He is not aware of what is central in life. He lacks discernment of true spiritual values. He lives in a dark world of shadows.
Forgetfulness. Finally, the man who lacks the seven virtues has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. The truth of his redemption has lost its grip on him. He is going back in the direction from which he was once rescued. He is toying with sins that caused the death of God’s Son.