I am so thankful for the theme of this past Sunday’s scripture reading day and the thoughts shared after their reading. First, there was Abraham, convinced that God is a promise keeper, willingly placed his son on the alter all because he was persuaded “God was able to raise him up from the dead” (Genesis 22:1-19; Hebrews 11:19). Then there was the profound faith of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego who faced the blazing furnace, confident that God could save them and resolved to not waver even if He did not (Daniel 3:17-18). Or the beautiful faith chapter of Hebrews chapter 11, that reveals the amazing faith of those from times past who “by faith” lived their lives with assurance and obedience. These are but a small portion of examples of faith driven people in action. These examples of faithful people reveal to us who are in Christ today, that such faith is not so much a finish line, but rather a starting point, where hope is found, and transformation begins. We “press toward the goal” (Philippians 3:14), or as we have considered from 2nd Peter 1:5, we do “all we [you] can to add to our [your] life these things” (2nd Peter 1:5, ETRV). With this in mind, we return to our text from two weeks ago and consider how God yearns for our faith to grow.
But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith…
brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.
2nd Peter 1:5, 7
At first, one might think that these two things should be mentioned first concerning the godly character traits we should grow in; that is, until you read Colossians 3:14. Paul exhorted the church in Colossae, saying, “But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.” By perfection, your translation may read “perfect unity,” Paul is referring to maturity or completeness. Love is a sort of binding agent that holds all things together. As one person says, “So charity [i.e., love] completes the choir of graces.” Okay, with this in mind, let’s go back to our text. The English Revised Version reads, “…and in your godliness love of the brethren; and in your love of the brethren love” (2nd Peter 1:7). First, there is this idea of brotherly kindness which finds its meaning in the Greek word philadelphian. It is the word which the city of Philadelphia gets it name as the city of brotherly love. Strong’s defines it as a love of Christian brethren, fraternal affection; fraternal simply means involving brothers. For the Christian, the care for the brethren is to be deeply rooted in our faith. Paul would write, “…let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10). John would simply say, “And this commandment we have from Him; that he who loves God must love his brother also” (1st John 4:21). John goes on to reveal that this love is faith driven and active, saying, “…let us not love in word or tongue, but in deed and in truth” (1st John 3:18). This idea is not new to Peter’s exhortation either, for he penned in 1st Peter 1:22 “love one another fervently with a pure heart.” That word love is the same Greek word used in 2nd Peter 1:7 and is amplified by the word fervently, which means earnestly, strenuously, intently. Concerning this fervent love, he would reason in 1st Peter 4:8, “And above all things have fervent love for one another, for ‘love will cover a multitude of sins.’” Paul echoed these sentiments, teaching those in Rome to “be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love” (Romans 12:10). The writer of Hebrews simply wrote, “Let brotherly love continue” (Hebrews 13:1). It is important to remember that when Christians devote themselves to one another in such a way, we will “never fail to be useful to God” (2nd Peter 1:8).
When love fills the church family, it seems only natural that we would want to extend that love to those around us who are not part of God’s family. As one person writes, “And although ‘charity begins at home’ with ‘them who are of the household of faith,’ it must not end there, but reach out to all men, whether Christians or not.” Paul would say to the church in Thessalonia, “And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all…” (1st Thessalonians 3:12). When such love is present, we are better prepared to give an answer to the hope we have (1st Peter 3:15). Better equipped to “love your enemies” and “pray for those who…persecute you” (Matthew 5:43-48).
We, the body of Christ, are to be the conduit in which God shares His love with a lost and dying world. What a tremendous opportunity! What an amazing challenge! I am compelled to pray, “Lord, help my faith to grow so that I will love Your church which You purchased with Your blood with the same grace, patience and forgiveness You extend to me. And may that love extend to the world around me and Your name be glorified. Amen.”