Tuesday, October 23, 2012

October 24, 2012

"..........and to godliness, mutual affection......" II Peter 1:7
"Mutual affection" or "brotherly love" is the soil in which seeds of fellowship and discipleship sprout and grow. It should not be a surprise that this great virtue should be included in this description of spiritual maturity.
This love is a frequent theme of the New Testament writers in their admonitions for spiritual maturity. I have listed several of them in this post.
"A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." John 13:34-35
Not only is loving one another a command. Not only is it a sign that we are a Christian. It is also a sign that we are saved.
"We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. 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." I John 3:14-16
The love Jesus is talking about here is an act of the will. It represents not so much an involuntary response to conditions, as it does a deliberate choice, a calculated set of the mind. Love is not an emotion. It’s a policy.
Aristotle said, "a man cannot expect to be loved unless he is deserving of love." But the kind of love that Jesus teaches us to have says: "I love you -- with no strings attached." It is a love that is the result of being devoted to one another.
"Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves."  Rom 12:10  (NIV)
This kind of love should be nurtured so that it will grow.
"May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you." 1Thes 3:12  (NIV)
Paul’s admonition to the church is that brotherly love is a given. It is a part of Christian living. It is a lesson that God himself teaches us.
"But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another." 1Thes 4:9
Paul’s description of love in I Corinthians is not just for marriages. It is the Bible description for real love.
When we truly love others, No laws will need to govern our behavior or conduct, for love goes above and beyond any law.
"The entire law is summed up in a single command: "Love your neighbor as yourself." If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. Gal 5:14-15 (NIV)"
 "Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:" 1 Pet 1:22
"This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you." John 15:12-14
"These things I command you, that ye love one another." John 15:17
"In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous." I Jn 3:10-12
You've got to love it!

October 23, 2012

"and to godliness, mutual affection........" II Peter 1:7
Peter has effectively and meticulously laid out the process of spiritual growth - "His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, MUTUAL AFFECTION;"
Each of us must take responsibility for our own spiritual growth. After all, God has given us everything we need to live godly lives. He has given us great and precious promises. He has given us the Word and He has sent His Spirit. Everything He can do He has done!
It is up to us to "make every effort to add". Literally that means to give our full effort and attention to supporting the work God wants to do in us.
God has given us one other thing to help us - each other!
That is the essence of this virtue of "mutual affection". We each care for the other enough to give encouragement, accountability, and prayer support to nurture spiritual growth for the other. In the process of doing that, affection grows and faith grows and fellowship strengthens!
One of the reasons I harbor such a passion for local churches is because it is within the unity and fellowship of a local church we can literally love one another to life! It is within the safety of a grace-giving community we can call out the best in each other patiently, yet persistently. We can challenge each other when necessary but at the same time we cheer one another.
I have been blessed to devote my life to the church because the church has blessed my life beyond measure! I can't imagine where I would be or who I would be without all the mutual affection I have received from pastors, Sunday School teachers, youth pastors, college professors, and brothers and sisters in Christ! I love because of the love I have received. I offer the fruits of that love to help others add to their faith as I have been helped.
That is how God designed it! It is how God desires it!
Do you have a fellowship where you can find mutual love? Do you have a group of believers who are as committed to your spiritual maturity as they are their own?
That is mutual affection!