“Affection is responsible for nine-tenths of whatever solid and durable happiness there is in our natural lives,” penned C. S. Lewis in The Four Loves.
In this book Lewis summarizes the four types of human love as he views them from a Christian perspective. Family love. Friendship love. Romantic love. And unconditional “God love.”
Our word today, while two English words, is one Greek word–Philadalephos. It is a compound word of phileo (tender affection) and adelphos (brother).
The apostle Peter says that “brotherly affection” is one of the virtues that ought to be lavishly added to our faith (2 Pet. 1:5-7). Paul states it as a command in Romans 12:10. “Love one another with brotherly affection.”
The word is also translated “brotherly love” in other passages. The Hebrew writer succinctly exhorts “Let brotherly love continue.” Paul also provides this further insight into brotherly affection regarding his observations of the church at Thessalonica.
“Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more,” (1 Thess. 4:9-10)
Furthermore, Peter connects brotherly affection as unique and singular to our spiritual rebirth. “Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart” (1 Pet. 1:22).
All of this leads us to these observations.
#1 Brotherly affection, as Biblically described, transcends neighborliness and a friendship born of material interests. It definitely is not carnal. Fleshly. Or sensual.
In his commentary on 1Peter, C. D. Hamilton observes that godliness issues itself in a kindly affectionate attitude toward one’s brethren. One who is a partaker of the “divine nature,” sees his brethren in a different light than other relationships.. They share a commonalty in Christ. A unity of faith. A mutual hope. And a reciprocal divine love.
#2 Brotherly affection expresses itself in gracious behavior. The numerous “one another: commands in the epistles speak to a relationship that is gentle and generous. Tender and tolerant. Cordial and courteous. Soft-hearted and sympathetic.
Brotherly affection is demonstrated as we…
…”Accept one another” (Rom. 15:7).
…”Care for one another” (1 Cor. 12:25).
…”Bear one another’s”(Gal. 6:1-2).
…”Serve one another” (Gal. 5:13).
…”Comfort one another” (1 Thess. 4:18).
…”Edify one another” (1 Thess. 5:11).
…”Pray for one another” (Jas. 5:16).
…”Forgive one another” (Col. 3:13).
#3 Brotherly affection is indicative of our love for God. The apostle John raises a provocative and pointed question. “How can one love God whom he has not seen, and not love his brother who he has seen?” (1Jn. 4:20).
Even with their frailties and foibles, I must see my brother and sister as a joint-heir of God’s grace. A partaker together in His Divine Nature. A partner in God’s work. An equal citizen in His Kingdom. A teammate running the Christian race. A fellow solider in the Lord’s army. A cherished sibling in God’s family. And an interdependent member of Christ’s Body.
When we truly love God that feeling and affinity extends itself to His other children. In fact, Jesus said that loving one another is the distinctive mark of discipleship to the world (Jn. 13:34-35).
Brotherly affection would remove suspicion and distrust among brethren. Eliminate cruel and cutting remarks. Eradicate envy and jealousy. Defeat discord and division. Ease tension and stress. Heal hurting hearts and wounded souls.. And repair ruptured friendship and fellowship.
As we reflect on these applications, we realize that we too often fall short of the mark. And no matter how well we feel that we’re doing, as Paul told the Thessalonians we can do “more and more” to show affection for our brothers in Christ.
In the words of Henry Drummond, “The greatest thing a man can do for his Heavenly Father is to be kind to some of His other children.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman