The next two attributes, brotherly kindness and charity, go hand in hand, but they are a little different. We will focus on brotherly kindness today. To understand what brotherly kindness means, let us read Matthew 22:34-40:
34 But when the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together.
35 Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying,
36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
38 This is the first and great commandment.
39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
From these verses, we learn that the most important commandments are to love God and to love others. That love allows brotherly kindness and charity to develop. According to Mark Copeland, brotherly kindness is “the love which Christians cherish for each other as brethren. Romans 12:10 reveals that it is through brotherly kindness that we can have ‘kind affection’ toward one another. It is brotherly kindness, therefore, that provides a true sense of family in our association as members of the Lord’s body.”1
We often refer to the members of our church as our church family. I have moved several times in the past decade, and it always surprises me that wherever I go, the same feeling of family abides in the congregations I have had the privilege of being a part of. The reason why that feeling abides is because we share a common bond. The bond of baptism and embarking upon the road towards discipleship and helping one another return to our Heavenly Father. That bond allows the love of brotherly kindness to flourish in our hearts. We become united as we serve one another in our various church callings and assignments. Service permits us to care for exceptional individuals. As we serve them, we get to know them, which in turn helps us grow in love towards them as we realize who they are and what God sees in them.
We can also show brotherly kindness towards Christians who are not of our particular faith. The bond we share with them is the common belief in Jesus Christ. Christians in general love our Savior and strive to be like Him. Have you ever met an individual whom you just had the ease of talking and interacting with just to later find out he or she also believes in Christ? Just like Christ knows His sheep, we too can sense those who do their best to emulate Him and live by His word.
Our Savior repeatedly implores that we love one another. He wants us to care for each other and develop His Christlike love. Sometimes, it is easier to start with loving those who share common beliefs, not just concerning faith. We get along best with those who like similar things, like certain sports, foods, books, or games. The underlying reason is having a bond. If you have a love for singing and find out someone at school or in your community also likes to sing, you more than likely will have the opportunity to meet when you both join some type of choir. You may later develop a friendship if you are in the same section in your choir because you practice together and get to know each other. The same principle applies to sports, whether you are a team member or a spectator.
Our common love for and belief in Christ binds us together. You may have a group of individuals in your own congregation which you rely on more than others because you have had the opportunity to develop more brotherly kindness towards them based on your daily or weekly interactions. In our study of 2 Peter 1:5-8, we have come to realize that the Christlike attributes build up in a step-like manner and are also intertwined as one attribute relies on two or more attributes as its particular foundation. Brotherly kindness is an essential quality to develop before we can progress towards charity, which we will focus on next time.
The following scripture can put brotherly kindness and charity in perspective.
1 Thessalonians 4:9-10
9 But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another.
10 And indeed ye do it toward all the brethren which are in all Macedonia: but we beseech you, brethren, that ye increase more and more;
Yes, we do know that we must love one another. We have had multiple lessons on this important commandment. But Paul challenges us to "increase more and more.” If we are to one day possess charity, we need to increase more and more in brotherly kindness until showing love towards the members of our congregation and Christians in other congregations becomes a part of who we are. We can one day, through much effort and practice, develop Christlike love towards ALL men.
How do we increase more and more in brotherly kindness? We can
Listen to their concerns
Mourn with them as they go through their trials
Comfort them when they experience difficulties
Find ways to serve them outside of your specified church hour block
Pray for them
Become their friend
I challenge you to look for individuals in your congregation or other congregations whom you would like to show more brotherly kindness towards. As you practice these six suggestions and find other ways too, you will be one step closer in developing charity. Please share your experiences in the comments below.
Stay tuned for the final post of the Christlike attributes series and don’t forget to grab your free worksheet of the Christlike Attributes Evaluation Challenge if you haven’t already (click on the image below)!
Copeland, Mark. (2000). Brotherly Kindness. Retrieved from: http://www.bible.ca/ef/expository-2-peter-1-7a.htm.
The Christlike Attributes series includes: