Summary: This is the last message in the Developing Christian character series, taking a look at the last two qualities of kindness and love we should possess.
The Specifics of Christian Development – Part 3
Today we will conclude our consideration of the specifics of Christian development. We have noticed that Peter is very specific concerning what character qualities we should seek to develop as a Christian if we are going to progress toward Christ-likeness. He seems to list them in a particular order, as we see listed in verses 5-7.
The first three character qualities that we looked at (faith, goodness, and knowledge) have to do with our relationship with God. The second three (self-control, perseverance, and godliness) have to do with our relationship with the world around us. And the last two character qualities which we are going to look at today (brotherly kindness and love) have to deal with how we should relate to the people around us.
I. Brotherly Kindness (v. 7)
a. The word that Peter used here is the Greek word “phileo,” which is the word used in the name of the church mentioned in the book of Revelation, the church at Philadelphia.
i. “Phileo” is one of the words the Greeks used when speaking of love.
ii. In fact, we have a city here in the United States, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, which is commonly called, “the city of brotherly love,” because “phileo” refers to a love that is based on a family relationship or connection.
iii. This is a love that Christians, therefore, should have for one another, since we are all part of the same family, the family of God.
b. As illustrated by the testimony of members of the church that have gone on mission trips.
i. When you are part of the family of God, you can literally journey half way around the world and find that you have an instant connection with the believers you find there.
ii. Anyone who has traveled on a mission trip or simply on a vacation where you stopped to worship with others on the Lord’s Day can testify to this.
iii. It’s a wonderful thing.
c. But it is a sad fact that often, members of God’s family get along more lovingly with brothers and sisters they do not know personally, than they do with those they do know in their own country, community, or even, their own church.
i. As the old poem expresses it, “To dwell in love with saints above, oh will, one day, be glory; But to dwell below with saints we know, well that’s a different story!”
d. That is why Peter tells us that we need to “make every effort,” to add this character quality to our lives as believers.
i. When it comes to forgiveness, to reconciliation, to taking the initiative to reach out and help, to bearing one another’s burdens, to encouraging one another, to serving one another, and to being kind to one another, we can sometimes find it a difficult task.
ii. How can we be helped to develop this character quality in our lives, even when it comes to that brother or sister in Christ with whom we might have difficulty?
1. 1 Peter 1:22-2:3 tells us, “Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart, for you have been born again, not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God. For, ‘All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers and the flower falls off, but the word of the Lord endures forever.’ And this is the word which was preached to you. Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.”
2. Resolve to allow God’s Word to change you from within
3. Remember what you have in common
4. Recognize the brevity of life
5. Rely on the stability of God’s Word
6. Realize your need to change and grow
e. Conflict is often how God works His purposes out in our lives.
f. But that will only happen if we obey and apply the principles of His word.
II. Love (v. 7)
a. While the word, “phileo,” which is translated ‘brotherly kindness,’ relates to a love based on a common bond or relationship, the word used by Peter here, “agape,” is a love that does not require a connection or relationship.
i. In fact, “agape” describes a love that one has for another, even though they are not connected, or even though the other party is antagonistic toward you.
ii. “Agape” is a love Christians are to have for those who are not part of God’s family.