In my youth, I learned about how to determine the age of a tree. It was a tedious but fascinating lesson somewhere in my elementary years.
Just in case you didn’t have as great a science teacher, the age of a tree is determined by the number of rings that can be counted in its trunk. Only when you meticulously count each ring can the age be determined. Of course, there’s no way to do this unless you cut down the tree.
Spiritual maturity is difficult to gauge on this side of heaven. Some people seem to add rings to their life more quickly than others but there’s no real way to see someone’s spiritual age until we’re standing in Glory. Until that day, it is simply expected that we see spiritual growth from someone with good spiritual health.
For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. 2 Peter 1: 5-7
What progression should we see in our own lives and in the lives of others?
Thankfully, Peter lays it out pretty well!
Faith should lead to virtue which should lead to knowledge which should lead to self-control and so on.
I’ve written about each of these traits with more detail in my book, From Root to Fruit, but today I just wanna talk about the last two. Brotherly Affection is the love that we have for those with in the Body of Christ. That final Love is the love that we have for everyone — regardless of their spiritual, political, or physical state.
Loving a brother or sister in Christ can often be much more difficult than loving a non-believer. In fact, with some fellow believers, this can begin to feel impossible. But loving each and every one of our spiritual brothers and sisters is exactly what we’re supposed to do, even across denominational lines.
We can show affection with acts of kindness, encouragement, praying for one another, and spiritual support. We’re not going to spend a lot of time on brotherly affection because it’s pretty self-explanatory – even if it’s not easy.
It’s not easy because when we’re kind to someone, we want them to be kind back. Especially if they claim to be a Christian.
However, Peter instructs us to behave in accordance with brotherly affection with or without the person responding as we wish.
As you read through brotherly affection, I’m sure someone came to your mind that is difficult to show that affection.
Who is that person and what actions can you take that show brotherly (or sisterly) affection to him or her?
Love is probably the most overused word in the English language. Especially during the week of the love holiday!
When I consider just how many times I used the word in the last week, I’m a little embarrassed. I love this television show or that one. I love my new shoes. I love the changing of the season. I love my coffee. I love my husband. I love my ice cream. And I love God.
Granted, most of you read each love and understood that the love I have for my husband is different than my love of coffee. However, this makes it even more difficult to define love.
1 Corinthians 13: 4-7 is the love definition given in the Bible. Every time I read this passage I am astounded by everything that love is. To be honest, I always feel a bit overwhelmed. How am I supposed to do all of this!?!
The Greek word is agape and it is loaded with richly worded definitions like “goodwill toward others, the love of our neighbor, brotherly affection which the Lord Jesus commands and inspires” or “the love which is derived from Christ.”
The word agape tells me that I can’t love people like I’m supposed to.
At least not on my own.
In my own person, I can’t be patient with someone who is really driving me to the corner of crazy and I-think-I-can-handle-prison. On my own, I can’t not be resentful when someone who is making terrible life choices succeeds where I fail. I simply cannot love people the way God desires.
It is for this very reason that I need to be growing in Christ. When I’m growing in knowledge, practicing discipline, and remembering the holiness of God, love will come more naturally and it will become easier.
It happens this way because agape love is inspired by God. When I’m filled with God and His love then it’s less difficult to shelve my human nature. When God’s love fills me up, there has to be less of me. It’s basic science!
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7
In this week that claims to be dedicated to love, let’s not forget that Love is so much more than the flowers that are dying on the table or the card that may or not already be lost.