2 Peter 1:5-8 5For this very reason, adding your diligence [to the divine promises], employ every effort in exercising your faith to develop virtue (excellence, resolution, Christian energy), and in [exercising] virtue [develop] knowledge (intelligence), 6And in [exercising] knowledge [develop] self-control, and in [exercising] self-control [develop] steadfastness (patience, endurance), and in [exercising] steadfastness [develop] godliness (piety), 7And in [exercising] godliness [develop] brotherly affection, and in [exercising] brotherly affection [develop] Christian love. 8For as these qualities are yours and increasingly abound in you, they will keep [you] from being idle or unfruitful unto the [full personal] knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).
Treating our brothers and sisters in Christ with brotherly affection- respect, honor, deference- will lead to the next step, Brotherly love. You may think affection and love are the same thing, but they aren’t. Love is the next level. Today as I was thinking of this scripture an old Sunday school song popped into my head. It was a song we used to sing when I was in 1st or 2nd grade and was based on 1 John 4:7-8 which says 7Beloved, let us love one another, for love is (springs) from God; and he who loves [his fellowmen] is begotten (born) of God and is coming [progressively] to know and understand God [to perceive and recognize and get a better and clearer knowledge of Him]. 8He who does not love has not become acquainted with God [does not and never did know Him], for God is love. Love is from God and love is God. It says in this verse that if we do not love, we do not and never did know Him. That’s a scary thought. When we step out of love with those around us, we are taking ourselves out of knowing God.
How are we supposed to love others? Let’s look at a few more verses in 1 John 4:9-11 9In this the love of God was made manifest (displayed) where we are concerned: in that God sent His Son, the only begotten or [unique [Son], into the world so that we might live through Him. 10In this is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation (the atoning sacrifice) for our sins. 11Beloved, if God loved us so [very much], we also ought to love one another. God showed us He loved us by sending His Son to die for us. I like what it says in verse 10- God’s love is given to us regardless of whether we return it or not. I have to pause for a moment because I am amazed at how wonderful He is. No matter what we do, no matter how far we may stray, no matter if we give up on Him, His love is still there waiting for us, drawing us, and longing just to bring us back to a place of fellowship with Him. That is the kind of love we are to show. How often do we write people off when they do us wrong? How often do we turn our backs on those that offend us? The next time you are tempted to walk out of love, stop and think of the love God has for you. As we saw in verse 11- If God loved us so very much, we ought then to love one another.