Growth in Grace 17 — Brotherly Kindness Must Be Supplied with Love 2

by | Oct 29, 2014 | Soteriology

We are considering 2 Peter 1:7 and its teaching that brotherly kindness (or love) must be supplied with love.  In expounding this text I am answering three questions.

I.       What is this love?
II.      Why must brotherly kindness be supplied with it?
III.     Why is this love the last virtue mentioned and in no need of being supplied with another virtue?

Having answered the first of these questions in the last post, I come to the second:

II.      Why must brotherly kindness be supplied with it?

We have observed again and again that the reason Peter follows the precise order that he does in these verses is that the previous grace or virtue has a deformed twin with the same name.  Faith un-supplied with moral excellence is the faith of demons.  True faith is always permeated with moral excellence.  Now what deformity does brotherly kindness turn into without love?  In other words, what counterfeit with the name of brotherly love—that some people call brotherly love—is marked by the fact that it is empty and devoid and un-supplied with universal benevolence?  It turns into the kind of exclusivistic preference for our own kind which is manifested in prejudice and racism.  It is this kind of racial preference and prejudice and hatred which made the Jews reject the Gentiles as unworthy of any love or concern.

Thus, even brotherly kindness is capable of being perverted and being turned into an exclusivistic preference for those who are like us. It is the need for supplying brotherly kindness with love which was in Jesus’ mind when he exhorted his disciples to love their enemies (Matt. 5:43-48).  The Jews provide the example of those who claimed to love the brethren, but were devoid of this universal benevolence.  They even perverted the Old Testament Scriptures in favor of their spiritual deformity.

Matthew 5:43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR, and hate your enemy.’ 44 “But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you 45 in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 “For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax-gatherers do the same? 47 “And if you greet your brothers only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Any so-called brotherly love that does not overflow in a spirit of genuine good will towards its enemies and towards those outside its little spiritual circle is counterfeit.  The true grace of brotherly kindness overflows in the grace of universal benevolence.

III.    Why is this love the last virtue mentioned and in no need of being supplied with another virtue?

The peculiar thing about love in this list of virtues is that it is the last one.  This is significant because all the other virtues Peter is careful to say must be supplied with some balancing and completing grace.  Not so love!  Love is not completed or supplied by any further grace.  Love is the end and goal.  The reason is that love is the essence of Christian maturity.  When love is reached, the finish line is crossed.  If we are familiar with the New Testament, it will not surprise us that with love the goal is attained.  There are at least three other passages that speak of love as the goal and perfection and fulfillment of Christian grace.

Colossians 3:14 And beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity (literally, the bond of perfection or completeness).

Romans 13:8 Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. 9 For this, “YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, YOU SHALL NOT MURDER, YOU SHALL NOT STEAL, YOU SHALL NOT COVET,” and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; love therefore is the fulfillment of the law.

1 Timothy 1:5 But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.

Has the goal of the gospel been achieved in you? You love those who are like you and perhaps many of them are Christians.  That is not bad.  But the farthest end of the gospel is not fulfilled in this.  The farthest end of the gospel is only attained in universal benevolence or love.  True brotherly kindness will overflow in a desire for the welfare and blessing of all men.  In this the heart of God possesses our hearts and we become perfect like our Father in heaven is perfect.

We have here a wonderful magnifying glass with which to examine ourselves.  It is so easy to justify ourselves in arguments with our spouses and in the breakdown of marital relationships.  A simple lack of benevolent love is so often the problem.  We cannot see our own sinfulness.  We are focused on how unlovely and unloving our mate is being. But even if this is the case, you still must look at your own attitudes and conduct under the magnifying glass of the love we are talking about this morning—universal benevolence!  Do you see how your words, conduct, and behavior are lacking in this simple love of sheer good will which does not depend on the other person’s character or conduct?  Rebuke yourself and repent and ask forgiveness through the blood of Christ and confess your sin of a lack of love to your spouse or friend or child.  Only then will you put the relationship in question on the road to recovery.

A heart for the evangelism of the lost is rooted in this love of universal benevolence.  A lack of heart for evangelism is a dreadful manifestation of the lack of this love.  How in your life is such love manifesting itself? How are you helping to forward the church’s fulfillment of the Great Commission?

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