Step 6: With All Diligence Add Brotherly Kindness To Your Godliness

“And in [exercising] godliness [develop] brotherly affection…” [2 Peter 1:7 AMP]

Steps 5-7 have everything to do with passion. Step 5 is experiencing a loving passion for God. Then Step 6 creates a passion to love fellow believers. And finally, Step 7 focuses on passionate love for the lost world around us.

As you mature, true, deep change grips your heart and soul. God’s passion and love bleeds through your soul. As John explains in 1 John 2:14, once you have a relationship with God that can be described by these words, “you have known Him…”, you find this deep and personal connection profoundly alters your spiritual DNA. Like spiritual fathers, mothers and grandparents, the third [mature]and fourth [teacher] phases of your spiritual journey floods your life with Christlike passion for others.

Godliness is rare in America, and from the polling and experiences of people, it seems to be rare in the local church. Not all the accusations are true, obviously, they were all false as they attacked Christ, but enough evidence points to this reality today to conclude that we are suffering from the vacuum of godlessness.

Less than 35% of Americans even attend church on any weekend. So, before you hope to travel in this narrow road of “fraternal affection,” we will have to see the “Christian” critics and quitters come back to church consistently and prove they have “brotherly love (kindness).” This cannot be you.

Divorcing from your fellow believers, and claiming the local church does not meet your needs, proves John’s warnings. “Those who say that they are in the light but hate other believers are still in the dark. [10] Those who love other believers live in the light. Nothing will destroy the faith of those who live in the light. [11] Those who hate other believers are in the dark and live in the dark. They don’t know where they’re going, because they can’t see in the dark.” [1 John 2:9-11 GW]

John spells it out for us. “They left us, but they were never really with us. If they had been, they would have stuck it out with us, loyal to the end. In leaving, they showed their true colors, showed they never did belong.” [1 John 2:19 from THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language © 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. All rights reserved.]

Remember, John explains, “God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. [6] If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.” Darkness is clearly Satan and His domain.

Ephesians 6:12

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

Col. 1:13

“Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:”

1 Thes. 5:4-5

“But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. [5] Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.”

The excuses for staying away from weekend church gatherings are endless and sickening. But the fact is, anybody who loves sports proves it by how he lives and supports his team. On the weekends and day off, he puts off chores and family to watch the game. Or she sneaks to the gym for dance, exercise, and tennis. People spend many hours doing what they really want and love, and ignore what they hate.

The Greek word is “to detest (especially to persecute); by extension to love less :- hate (-ful).” To love football more than joining the Christian team at a local church gathering, is loving “religion” less. It is loving your Christian brother LESS! And this is the point, whether people are willing to admit the word “hate” or “detest” for what they feel about the church. There is no love, that’s for sure. Anyone in this state, is in darkness, and not a Christian, whether they protest my words or not!

It Takes a Godly Person to Love Other Christians

So the whole concept of this step is clear,  it takes a god-like person to love people in close quarters who are not your children or relatives. It takes a commitment of kindness to put up with people’s flaws and weaknesses, their cultural differences, and their immature attitudes and actions. Parents do this with their kids, but many Christians refuse to see that some fellow believers are spiritual babies or children.

If you are a spiritual child you want to think of yourself and not others. To only focus on getting spiritually fed and supported is selfish and childlike. Conflict and problems always follow children, and if you are a parent you know this. Read 1 Corinthians and see how much trouble an immature church can get into. But mature, godly people find the Lord enlarging their hearts to be kind to their Christian family no matter what.

And this brotherly kindness does not come easily, it takes a lot of forgiveness, patience, and a whole lot of godliness to develop true brotherly love for the people who make up a local congregation of the church. This is why Peter says to exercise [use] your godliness to develop brotherly kindness. This is not an easy step for anyone. It takes diligence and willpower to love Christians that are not likable.

And remember this, we are not led to believe that you receive a membership card from heaven, making you a member of the large international group called the “Church” in some kind of abstract way, ignoring the real world of a local church of Christians.

You are not free from being joined to the team of a hard working group of local people, “the called out ones” of your city. For example, you cannot be an NFL player, unless you are a member of a local NFL team. Once you are off the local team, you may be qualified, but unless another team picks you up, you are retired and just a fan. God has no fans, He only has players called disciples.

You must take a position on a team and take on the responsibility of helping your team members accomplish the goals God gives. Also you must encourage and help fellow members develop their skills which makes your team stronger. And you most definitely must learn to work together for the good of the Kingdom.

Take the first church as the pattern. Acts chapter two describes the powerful start of the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. Three thousand believed the words of Peter, left their circle of friends and united into a brand new community of people who also were committed to Jesus. They did not just believe in their heads, go back to the way they lived, and expect to go to heaven. Repentance demanded a total, revolutionary change of direction and life immediately.

Here is the Word, “Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.’”

“And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, ‘Be saved from this perverse generation.’ 41 Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. 42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. 43 Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. 44 Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, 45 and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.

“46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.”

True salvation brings radical change and a new allegiance that is supernaturally imprinted inside a new Christian. “And they continued steadfastly” is based on a Greek word with powerful meaning. It covers these actions, “to be earnest towards, i.e. (to a thing) to persevere, be constantly diligent, or (in a place) to attend assiduously all the exercises, or (to a person) to adhere closely to (as a servitor) :- attend (give self) continually (upon), continue (in, instant in, with), wait on (continually).”

The Acts record reveals the instantaneous reversal of three thousand people from their old lifestyle and the cementing of a new “team” of furiously committed people to Christ and each other. Their love bonded them into a strong and unbreakable fellowship. They went to extremes in their care for and support of each other, even though many just met! Obviously, the core leaders, were with Jesus about three years, but the heart of God’s care was created inside these new disciples very quickly.

And we too are ordered to focus and keep the family together just like they did so long ago. “Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart…” [1 Peter 1:22 NKJV] And repeated again “Continue to love each other.” [Hebrews 13:1 GW]

The Godly Serve and Help Others Through Brotherly Love

But, the work comes after the initial excitement of new life and the supernatural grace that surges inside the young Christian. Mature believers must work hard to keep the unity of the team by nurturing the babes and immature in Christ, being examples of patience and love, and leading in the purposes and work of God.

Paul challenges believers to be diligent and work hard at this. “Through the peace that ties you together, do your best to maintain the unity that the Spirit gives… This is to continue until all of us are united in our faith and in our knowledge about God’s Son, until we become mature, until we measure up to Christ, who is the standard.” [Ephes. 4:3, 13 GW]

Peter adds, “Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; 9 not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.” [1 Peter 3:8,9 NKJV]

After holding to the conviction that it is God’s will, we unite and love as brothers, and the next step is actually developing brotherly affection for the saints. Remember the Lord taught, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” [Matthew 6:2] This means investing in your spiritual family, by focusing on serving and helping them in the faith, their value will grow in your heart.

This is how we are instructed to accomplish this change of heart. “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; 11 not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 12 rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; 13 distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.”

The more you intentionally invest in your Christian brothers, the more you will cherish them! The full depth of this exciting spiritual step is that you become consumed with the growth and blessing of your fellow believers. They are more important to you than anything of this world. If you think of sports, it would be like being a player-coach.

“So those of us who have a strong {faith} must be patient with the weaknesses of those whose {faith} is not so strong. We must not think only of ourselves. [2] We should all be concerned about our neighbor and the good things that will build his faith. [3] Christ did not think only of himself. Rather, as Scripture says, “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.” [4] Everything written long ago was written to teach us so that we would have confidence through the endurance and encouragement which the Scriptures give us. [5] May God, who gives you this endurance and encouragement, allow you to live in harmony with each other by following the example of Christ Jesus. [6] Then, having the same goal, you will praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. [7] Therefore, accept each other in the same way that Christ accepted you. He did this to bring glory to God.” [Romans 15:1-7 GW]

“Brothers and sisters, I encourage all of you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to agree with each other and not to split into opposing groups. I want you to be united in your understanding and opinions.” [1 Cor. 1:10 GW] Therefore, you must know the tricks and traps of the devil. “False prophets were among God’s people {in the past}, as false teachers will be among you. They will secretly bring in their own destructive teachings. They will deny [contradict] the Lord, who has bought them, and they will bring themselves swift destruction.” [2 Peter 2:1 GW]

Now before you get false ideas, I want to make sure you understand that unity and harmony does not mean compromise and acceptance of false doctrine or evil practices. The early church was united and devoted to the apostles’ doctrine. To keep the unity of all for the sake of maturing them to be like Christ demands that the church will have to remove false Christians from their team.

God’s word instruct us, “Now, what I meant was that you should not associate with people who call themselves brothers or sisters in the Christian faith but live in sexual sin, are greedy, worship false gods, use abusive language, get drunk, or are dishonest. Don’t eat with such people.” [1 Cor. 5:11 GW] “Brothers and sisters, I urge you to watch out for those people who create divisions and who make others fall away {from the Christian faith} by teaching doctrine that is not the same as you have learned. Stay away from them.” [Romans 16:17 GW]

Don’t be confused here! It is loving and kind to stop children from hurting themselves or someone else. It is also normal to protect children. And parents always correct and guide their children. This is the power and importance of Christian fellowship. God established the positions of mature church leaders: missionaries, evangelists, preachers, teachers and pastors to guide and protect the infants and immature from themselves and the devil. Like shepherds of old they are raised up to supervise the fulfillment of all these things: the unity and fellowship of the team, the maturing and strengthening of the team, and the safety and protection of the team.

Fellowship is living out brotherly kindness through the powerful bond of the passionate love of God. “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, 2 with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, 3 endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

7 But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 8 Therefore He says:

“When He ascended on high,

He led captivity captive, And gave gifts to men.”

9 (Now this, “He ascended”—what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.)

11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love. [Ephesians 4:1-16 NKJV]

So What is Necessary For You to Achieve Step 6?

1/ Decide that the church, yes, the organized church with spiritual leaders, is God’s church. Yes there are false teachers and false cults and movements. So be careful and find God’s people. It does not matter what you like, it matters who they are. If you have divided yourself from them you are in error and resistant to God’s authority. Humble yourself and repent, and quickly find a local congregation of Christians that follow the clear teaching of the Bible, and submit to the pastor’s authority.

2/ Then commit yourself to the work of the ministry of fellowship. And be clear, fellowship is living the “one another commands” within the local church of the New Testament. This is the only way to develop brotherly affection, diligently exercising your passion for God by loving the people He loves deeply, His family, which now is your eternal family.

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