Part of one’s service in Christ is administering to the needs of others, especially his own brethren (Gal. 6:10). Peter wrote, “Seeing you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that you love one another with a pure heart fervently” (1 Pet. 1:22). The Lord has not called us into a closet, monastery or abbey. He has called us to be light of the world. Nothing displays Christ’s influence in us quite so much as brotherly love.
Brotherly Love Is Commanded
Peter commanded, “See that you love one another with a pure heart fervently.” The Lord commanded that we show “unfeigned love of the brethren. This love of the brethren fits these three qualifications:
Love is to be Unfeigned
That means that our love for each other is to not to be hypocritical. Hypocritical love shows itself in such things as fawning praise in one’s presence but knifing him in the back when the brother is absent. The love which Christians show to each other is to be genuine. John wrote, “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth” (1 Jn. 3:18).
Love is to be from a Clean Heart
This indicates that one’s love for each other is not selfishly motivated. Sometimes the rich have those who love them from the hope of what they will receive in return. Love from a clean heart has no such selfish motives.
Love is Fervent
The word “fervent” means “boiling” (in contrast to cold indifference). We speak of “warm” affection; this is the kind of love which Peter commanded Christians to show to each other.
Expressions of Brotherly Love
Brotherly love expresses itself. It cannot be concealed. We can see expressions of brotherly love in such things as the following:
1. Affectionate greetings (Rom. 12:10; 16:16 f; 2 Pet. 1:7). Paul told Christians to greet one another with a holy kiss. The kiss was the manner in which Orientals greeted one another; we display the same affection by a handshake or a hug. I have witnessed Christians who felt such ill will toward each other that they would not speak as they entered the house for worship. Do you think they could offer acceptable worship?
2. Helping in time of need (1 Jn. 3:16-18 ff; Acts 4:32-37; 6:1-2; Heb. 6:10; Jam 1:27; Lk. 10:25-37). The heart of a Christian should be tender toward the sufferings of his fellow man; this is the trait of compassion (1 Pet. 3:8; Phil. 2:1). Witnessing the suffering of another, the Christian should respond to relieve the afflictions of him who is in need. The good Samaritan was moved with compassion when he saw the man who was beaten and left to die; he ministered to his needs. Christians should especially rally to each other’s help in the days of affliction. “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoso has this world’s good, and seed his brother have need, and shuts up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwells the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth (1 Jn 3:16-18).
3. Pray for each other (Acts 8:24; 12:5 f; Rom. 1:9). Brotherly love can be shown by taking a brother’s needs to God in prayer. Who better to pray for than a fellow servant of God? The fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much (Jam 5:16).
4. Encouraging one another (Gal. 6:2). We need to bear one another’s burdens. Barnabas was the “son of consolation” (Acts 4:36) because he encouraged his brethren. We can lift the burdens of our brother by encouraging words, a card, telephone call, and many other ways.
5. Restoring the fallen (Gal. 6:1). Sometimes men think that there is an absence of brotherly love when a person does what he can to restore the erring. If a brother steps into sin by forsaking the assembly, we generally recognize that brotherly love tries to restore him. However, when a brother steps into sin by teaching false doctrine, some cannot see that brotherly love responds to correct his error. Rebuttal is equated with animosity and hatred. How sad! James said, “Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; Let him know, that he which converts the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins” (Jam. 5:19-20).
6. Hospitality (Heb. 13:1-2; 1 Pet. 4:9). Christians are commanded to be hospitable. Our homes should be open to our brethren. One of the best ways that a Christian has to minister to the needs of his brethren is to open his home for them to visit. In such relaxed sittings, the brother frequently opens his heart to express his problems.
7. Forgiveness. Brotherly love is shown by one’s willingness to forgive those who sin against him. Peter said, “And above all things have fervent love among yourselves: for love shall cover the multitude of sins” (1 Pet. 4:8).
Conclusion: There is a joy which a person receives from brotherly love. We need to learn the joy of serving, the joy of having God’s approval, the joy of being thanked for a kind deed, the joy of being loved, and the joy of watching a loving group of Christians grow in number and spirit. We should love one another even as Christ also loved us and gave himself for us (Jn 13:34,35 ff; Gal 2:20; 1 Jn 3:16). Until we can love fellow brethren such as this, it is we who have erred from the faith and are in need to be saved from a multitude of sins.