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November 28, 2010
The apostle Peter wrote that we must add virtue to our basic faith in Jesus Christ. To virtue, we must then add knowledge, and to knowledge, we must add temperance, and to temperance, we must add patience, and to that we must add godliness. To godliness we must add brotherly kindness! If we cannot love our brothers, whom we see and interact with, how can we claim a love for God? Brotherly kindness is the next stage in Christian development, and is the step below the pinnacle, which is charity.
By Bernie Parsons
Presented to Globe church of Christ on 11-28-2010
Presented to Load church of Christ on 12-05-2010
2 Peter 1:5 "And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;
7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity."
We have seen how we must have a foundation of faith, strength to stand, knowledge of God’s will, temperance in all things, patience to endure, and godliness – to adopt God’s attributes. Once that we have achieved all of these, we must learn and practice brotherly kindness.
Colossians 3:12 "Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;
13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.
14 And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.
15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful."
Kindness is included among several traits that make for peace and unity in among believers. It is an important step on the way to having charity. Paul ranked it among such traits as mercy, humility, meekness, longsuffering, forbearance, and forgiveness. Peter ranks it just below charity, which is the final phase in the Christian’s growth toward spiritual maturity.
Titus 3:1 "Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work,
2 To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men.
3 For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.
4 But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared,"
Paul told Titus to teach those same Christian characteristics to the brethren that he was instructing. Be good citizens, alert to opportunities to do good, to speak evil of no one, not to fight, to be gentle and meek. Our kindness and love is a reflection of God’s kindness and love.
Luke 6:35 "But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.
36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful."
If God is merciful to His enemies – the rebellious and disobedient – ought not we to be kind to our brothers and sisters? The Lord who expects enemy-kindness expects brotherly kindness.
Ephesians 4:29 "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.
30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:
32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you."
We see that the apostle Paul couches the idea of kindness among the same Christian characteristics when he writes to the several churches, as well as to individuals. Put away bitterness, wrath, anger, arguments, evil speaking, and malice. Replace those with brotherly kindness, tenderheartedness, and forgiveness.
It is not hard to see how God intends us to be. Within the ekklesia – the body of Christ, God’s called out people – is where God’s image is reflected. When the world – those outside the body of Christ – sees us, they should be able to see God in us, as we studied last time.
We cannot be bitter toward our brethren, for that is not kindness. We cannot be consumed with wrath toward our brethren, for that is not kindness. We cannot allow anger to dictate our relationships with our brethren, for that is not kindness. We cannot be in strife and uproar with our brethren, for that is not kindness. We cannot speak ill of our brethren, for that is not kindness. We cannot harbor malice toward our brethren for that is not kindness. So plain to see!
2 Timothy 2:23 "But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes.
24 And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,
25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;
26 And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will."
We who minister, or serve, by teaching and preaching, are to set an example of gentleness, patience, and meekness, even toward those who get tangled up in the unnecessary questions that they raise. We have to try to show them that they are harming themselves, and are not helping anyone.
James 3:13 "Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.
14 But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.
15 This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.
16 For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.
17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.
18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace."
Many teachers and preachers of scripture think that they have an abundance of knowledge of God and what He expects. However, a good number among those fail to show as good an understanding as they think that they have. They struggle and strive, often fighting their own brethren who do not completely agree with their understanding. Some of them envy the abilities or accomplishments of others, leading to strife and infighting. James points out that such is the work of the flesh, not of the Holy Spirit of God.
Those who truly understand what God expects work from pure motives, and they aspire to peace among the brotherhood. They are gentle, easy to talk to, and full of mercy, doing the good works that show where their hearts are. They are not hypocritical and they do not show partiality. We can readily see why Peter put brotherly kindness as the next stage of Christian development before charity is understood and achieved in the Christian’s life.
1 John 4:19 "We love him, because he first loved us.
20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?
21 And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also."
John 13:34 "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
5 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another."
You can’t get much plainer than that. If we are members of the body of Christ, then we have care one for another. If we love one another, we will treat each other with kindness, gentleness, and forgiveness. Our thoughts will be on how to better the life of our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Matthew 25:40 "And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."