This week finds Norma Jean and me in the area of Sudbury, Ontario, Canada. We are in a meeting with the brethren at the Valley East Church that meets in Blezzard Valley.
We are staying in the home of Denis and Danny Veilleux, who are French-speaking Canadians, and most gracious hosts, who have kindly provided for our every need. Yesterday we were warmly received by the brothers and sisters who comprise this faithful family of God’s people.
Counting my wife and me and Sherry Stephens who was visiting her son, Caleb and his wife Maizey, there were a total of 14 in attendance for Bible Study and worship. All 14 went to Dan Lamarche’s home for a delightful and delicious potluck. And all 14 returned for the 4:00 service.
In reflecting this morning on the wonderful way we were received and the kind and loving interaction between these brethren, I thought of the quality of Brotherly Kindness for our word of the week. Yes, I know that’s two words, but it’s only one in the Greek!
Brotherly Kindness is a commanded virtue in 2 Peter 1.
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, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
It is interesting that the Holy Spirit makes a special distinction between brotherly kindness and love. The word philadelphia means a “fraternal affection.”
It is used in Romans 12:10 in speaking of our relationship in the Lord where Paul admonishes us to “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.”
It is translated “love of the brethren” in 1Thessalonians 4:9, as a trait for which these Christians were known as they demonstrated their affection toward all the brethren in Macedonia.
Regarding this virtue commentator William Barclay writes, “We must love each other, because we are members of one family. We are not strangers to each other within the (Lord’s) Church; much less are we isolated units; we are brothers and sisters, because we have the one father, God.”
Furthermore, Barclay says, “We must give each other priority in honor. More than half the trouble that arises in churches concerns rights and privileges and prestige. Someone has not been given his or her place; someone has been neglected or unthanked.”
I saw brotherly kindness in action yesterday in hugs, handshakes, and smiles. I observed a spirit of sharing. Caring. And the feeling of felicity and filial fellowship among this small band of brothers and sisters, who really support one another and are concerned for each other’s spiritual and physical welfare.
Brotherly Kindness is a virtue too often neglected among brethren today in many places. There is a tendency to value light more than love. To esteem an understanding of the mystery of faith above the expression of affection for one another. And to contend for the faith at the expense of consideration, compassion, and concern for the feelings of our brethren.
Brotherly Kindness is gentleness, goodwill, and generosity. It is tenderness, tolerance, and thoughtfulness. And it is cordiality, courtesy, and charity.
Love is like a tender plant that requires much attention, watering and fertilizing. It can be quickly affected by the cold air of unkindness, easily nipped by the frost of harsh words and uprooted by careless or thoughtless deeds. What the world needs now is love, sweet love. What the family of God needs now is love, brotherly love.
Henry Drummond once wrote, “The greatest thing a man can do for his Heavenly Father is to be kind to some of His other children.”
We would do well to imbibe the sentiment of the little girl who prayed, “Lord, help the bad people to be good. And help the good people to be kind.”
“Let brotherly love continue.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman