- Angelo Palma
Moving Toward BROTHERLY KINDNESS
Updated: Mar 28
“But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness BROTHERLY KINDNESS…” (2 Peter 1:5-7) This phrase in the original Greek language is none other than “Philadelphia”, which is a combination of two Greek words: phileos (love/affection) and adelphos (brother/brotherly). This is "brotherly love", the affectionate love which Christians cherish for each other as brothers and sisters. Brotherly love is no less than a defining mark of a true Christian and a major evidence and result of faith: “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren” (1 John 3:14). “Everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him” (1 John 5:1). “By this all people will know you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). When we look at the five other instances of “Philadelphia” in the New Testament, we can better understand biblically what this should look like in our own lives and more accurately assess ourselves in light of it:
1 Thessalonians 4:9-10 reminds us that we are completely dependent upon the Holy Spirit to teach us and produce God’s love in us, while at the same time we are completely responsible to pursue growth in this love (“we urge you, brethren, that you increase more and more”).
1 Peter 1:22 characterizes brotherly love, showing us that our emotions are both involved and important in brotherly love, as we are to love one another sincerely, fervently, and with a pure heart.
Romans 12:10-13 provides us with practical demonstrations of brotherly love in action, as we are called to giving preference to one another in honor, serve one another (a primary way we serve the Lord), and meet each other’s needs, even at great cost to ourselves.
1 Peter 3:8-9 specifies what brotherly love looks like regarding our demeanor and attitude toward one another, calling us to be united, compassionate, tenderhearted/kind, and courteous, even with those who are not easy to treat in such a manner. We are also not to desire vengeance or retaliation in response to an offense. Though hurts and offenses still happen in the body of Christ, we must not be easily offended, and we must not allow any anger or grudges to linger between us. Instead, if there is an issue at hand with a brother or sister, we must go to them, as soon as possible, and seek to reconcile. As followers of Christ, we should always be ready to humbly apologize and graciously forgive.
Hebrews 13:1-7 gives us a charge to persevere in brotherly love (“Let brotherly love continue.”) Our love should not just be for a season. No hurt, offense, or disagreement, and no amount of affliction or persecution should ever cause the flame of our love to be snuffed out. We can fan the flame of our love and help it to endure by remembering and giving attention to certain things: hospitality (even to strangers), prisoners, God’s design for marriage, God’s promise of His presence and provision, and our godly leaders in the faith.
HEART WORK: Take some time to reflect and ask yourself these questions: - How much love and affection do you really have in your heart for your brothers and sisters in Christ? - Is your love evidently increasing over time? (Are you a more loving person today than a year ago?) - Is your love for your fellow Christians sincere, fervent, pure, and from the heart? - When you gather with the church, do you look to just be served, or are you mindful of how you can also serve your church family? - Do you have your eyes and ears open to the needs that exist in the body? If you are able to meet a need, do you look to do so cheerfully, even if it costs you? If you find yourself still lacking or neglectful in aspects of brotherly love, failing to love a brother/sister, or struggling to be an affectionate person, you can cooperate with the Spirit’s work of sanctification in this area with the following applications: 1. LOOK - Look up at God’s love and kindness 2. LEARN - Learn from Jesus’ perfect model of Philadelphia 3. LEAN - Lean upon the Holy Spirit dependently through prayer 4. LIVE - Live out brotherly love whenever God gives the opportunity (regardless of your feelings) So, brothers and sisters, let us love one another! “May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you” (1 Thessalonians 3:12).