“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness… For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness (virtue), and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, BROTHERLY KINDNESS…” (2 Peter 1:3, 5-7)
Mrs. Jones, an elderly woman of meager means and unappealing appearance, arrived at the pastor’s study and asked to see the pastor about making arrangements for her late brother’s funeral. Mrs. Jones was told the pastor could not be disturbed because this was his prayer and study time and it must be guarded from interruptions. The secretary informed her she would need to make an appointment. However, because he had such a full schedule, he would not have any available time for a couple of weeks. The secretary suggested she could have one of the other staff contact her… if she liked.
As Peter wraps up his list of faith ‘additives’ that characterize an authentic, mature faith, he caps it all off with matters of love. He first uses the Greek word philadelphia, which we translate ‘brotherly kindness’ or ‘brotherly love’. It is a word that describes the wondrous love and kindness Christian brothers and sisters ought to show towards one another in all of our relationships in life. Its distinguishing mark is that no ordinary demands in our human relationships are ever viewed as a nuisance or bother, no matter how worthwhile we view our own activity at the time.
Lest we wrongly assume that the above illustration, though fictitious (but based upon a real life incident), suggests this is solely a clergy issue, we don’t have to look far to see other examples in our own lives at home, in the workplace, in the community, and in the church.
The Least of These
For example, how do we respond to demands for ministry or involvement with any of “the least of these”: children, the handicapped, the poor, the elderly… shall I go on? Brotherly kindness is the outward expression of a godly perspective that sees ALL God’s children as our heavenly Father sees them. Anytime we find the needs of others, whether personal friend or complete strangers, a nuisance or bother our faith no longer expresses the divine nature that gave it birth in the first place, and our claims to love God no longer have meaning or effect.
You’ve heard it said often–more is caught than taught; we teach by example; walk the talk. It’s not an either/or… but if our walk doesn’t match our talk, guess which will be taken most seriously? It’s true, our grandchildren will learn more about authentic brotherly kindness by our example than any words we say. Actions either authenticate or invalidate our words. So, here are a few suggestions for showing ‘brotherly love’ to the children in our lives:
- Give your grandchildren your full attention when they come to you, even at inconvenient times. Drop what you’re doing and turn your attention to them.
- I’m amazed at how many older saints consider children a nuisance or bother at church, so they don’t get involved, though they often complain. Set the example of brotherly kindness by volunteering to help in children’s ministry in your church at least once a month.
- Special needs children and adults are usually ignored and treated as an annoyance everywhere they go. Instead of rolling our eyes, why not roll up our sleeves and look for ways to engage with them and bless them with a kind and encouraging word?
After all, love that is birthed in true faith never sees the genuine needs of another as a nuisance, but an opportunity to give what we have received by grace.
“And [Christ] has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.” (I John 4:21)