Summary: Knowing and obeying God’s Word will result in deep love for my brothers and sisters in Christ.
Legendary football coach Vince Lombardi was once asked what it took to make a winning team. This was Lombardi’s answer: “First, teach the fundamentals; a player’s got to know the basics of the game. Next, you’ve got to keep him in line; that’s discipline. The men have to play as a team. And third, they’ve got to care for—to love—each other. Each guy says to himself: ‘If I don’t block that man, Paul’s going to get his legs broken. I have to do my job well do he can do his.’ The difference between mediocrity and greatness is the feeling these guys have for each other. When you’ve got that sort of team spirit, you’ve got a winning team.” That’s the kind of attitude we need in our church. That’s what it takes to make a “winning” church.
There are two commands in this passage:
(1) “Love one another deeply, from the heart” (v. 22).
(2) “Crave pure spiritual milk” (v. 2).
Is there a connection between these two commands? I believe there is.
1. We should love one another because we are a FAMILY.
We tend to think of our new birth (being “born again,” v. 23) as an individual matter. But we should view it as something that places us in a new family with a new Father and new brothers and sisters.
a. We are to SINCERELY love our spiritual brothers and sisters.
“Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers…” (v. 22a).
“Sincere” = real, genuine, unfeigned (KJV), without hypocrisy.
Love is not necessarily a warm, fuzzy feeling (usually it’s not). Love is treating others as you would like to be treated. To love someone often requires self-denial and self-sacrifice.
ILLUSTRATION: Generally, people care about their brothers and sisters. “Blood is thicker than water.” Peter is assuming that we also will care about our spiritual brothers and sisters. But…
b. We should strive for a DEEPER kind of love.
“…love one another deeply, from the heart” (v. 22b).
“From the heart” = with a pure heart (KJV); without ulterior motives.
Someone has said, “The church today is suffering from a fellowship crisis. In a world of big, impersonal institutions, the church often looks like just another big, impersonal institution.”
c. We will be a family FOREVER because our “birth” was produced by the “imperishable” Word of God.
“For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God” (v. 23).
Our earthly families are temporary because they are produced by “perishable seed.” But our spiritual family is eternal because it is produced by the “imperishable” word of God.
(1) The word is “living”: it produces life (eternal life).
(2) The word is “enduring”: it will last forever.
ILLUSTRATION: French writer and philosopher Voltaire once said, “Another century and there will be not a Bible on the earth.” The century is gone, and the Bible continues to be the world’s best-selling book. On December 24, 1933, the British government bought Codex Sinaiticus (an early manuscript of the Bible) from the Russians for half a million dollars. On that same day, a first edition of Voltaire’s work sold for eleven cents in Paris bookshops.
“For, ‘All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the stands forever.’ And this is the word that was preached to you” (vv. 24-25).
The quotation is from Isaiah 40:6-8 (from the Greek version: the Septuagint).
2. Our love will grow when we CRAVE the right kind of SPIRITUAL FOOD.
a. We must get rid of JUNK FOOD.
“Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind” (v. 1).
ILLUSTRATION: When trying to eat healthy, you need to get rid of all the junk food in your house.
(1) “Malice” = ill-will, desire to hurt.
(2) “Deceit” = speaking or acting with ulterior motives; anything less than speaking the full and honest truth; speaking nicely to a person’s face then criticizing that person behind his back.
(3) “Hypocrisy” = insincerity; for example, claiming to love a fellow believer and gossiping about her.
(4) “Envy” = resenting the good fortune another and wanting the same thing.
(5) “Slander” = any speech that is intended to harm another person’s reputation.
ILLUSTRATION: The sins are often disguised by stating a “concern” or a “prayer request.”
These are sins that DESTROY Christian fellowship. They show us what love is not. They harm instead of help.