THREE ESSENTIALS ABOUT BROTHERLY LOVE
By Duane V. Maxey
01 — THE FIRST N. T. USE OF “BROTHERLY LOVE”
Romans 12:10 — “Be kindly affectioned one to another with BROTHERLY LOVE; in honour preferring one another.” The Comments of Dr. Adam Clarke on this verse are a sermon in themselves, the essence of which I present below:
FROM ADAM CLARKE’S COMMENTARY: — Verse 10. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love] It is difficult to give a simple translation of the original. The word “philadelphia” signifies that affectionate regard which every Christian should feel for another, as being members of the same mystical body: hence it is emphatically termed the love of the brethren. When William Penn, of deservedly famous memory, made a treaty with the Indians in North America, and purchased from them a large woody tract, which, after its own nature and his name, he called Pennsylvania, he built a city on it, and peopled it with Christians of his own denomination, and called the city from the word in the text, “Philadelphia”; an appellation which it then bore with strict propriety: and still it bears the name.
The word “philostorgos” which we translate “kindly affectioned”, from “filov” and “storgh”, signifies that tender and indescribable affection which a mother bears to her child, and which almost all creatures manifest towards their young; and the word “filov” or “filew” joined to it, signifies a delight in it. Feel the tenderest affection towards each other, and delight to feel it. [1 Peter 3:8 — “Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, LOVE AS BRETHREN, be pitiful, be courteous:] “Love a brother Christian with the affection of a natural brother.”
In honour preferring one another] The meaning appears to be this: Consider all your brethren as more worthy than yourself; and let neither grief nor envy affect your mind at seeing another honoured and yourself neglected. This is a hard lesson, and very few persons learn it thoroughly. If we wish to see our brethren honoured, still it is with the secret condition in our own minds that we be honoured more than they. We have no objection to the elevation of others, providing we may be at the head. But who can bear even to be what he calls neglected? I once heard the following conversation between two persons, which the reader will pardon my relating in this place, as it appears to be rather in point, and is worthy of regard. “I know not,” said one, “that I neglect to do any thing in my power to promote the interest of true religion in this place, and yet I seem to be held in very little repute, scarcely any person even noticing me.” To which the other replied: “My good friend, SET YOURSELF DOWN FOR NOTHING, and if any person takes you for something it will be all clear gain.” I thought this a peculiar saying: but how full of meaning and common sense! Whether the object of this good counsel was profited by it I cannot tell; but I looked on it and received instruction.
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02 — THE SECOND N. T. USE OF “BROTHERLY LOVE”
1 Thessalonians 4:9-10 — “But as touching BROTHERLY LOVE ye need not that I write unto you: for YE YOURSELVES ARE TAUGHT OF GOD TO LOVE ONE ANOTHER. 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.”
FROM ADAM CLARKE’S COMMENTARY AGAIN: — Verse 9. Touching brotherly love] They were remarkable for this; and though the apostle appears to have had this as a topic on which he intended to write to them, yet, from the account which he received of their prosperous state by Timothy, he finds that it is unnecessary to spend any time in inculcating a doctrine which they fully understood and practised. See 1 Thessalonians 3:6: — “But now when Timotheus came from you unto us, and brought us GOOD TIDINGS OF YOUR FAITH AND CHARITY, and that ye have good remembrance of us always, desiring greatly to see us, as we also to see you.” Verse 10 — Ye do it toward all the brethren] Ye not only love one another at Thessalonica, but ye love all the brethren in Macedonia; ye consider them all as children of the same Father; and that all the Churches which are in Christ make one great and glorious body, of which He is the head.
Brethren, GOD HIMSELF ALWAYS TEACHES THOSE WHO ARE BORN AGAIN TO LOVE THOSE WHO ARE ALSO BORN AGAIN: — 1 John 5:1 — “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and EVERY ONE THAT LOVETH HIM THAT BEGAT LOVETH HIM ALSO THAT IS BEGOTTEN OF HIM.”
Oh beloved brethren, HOW EASY IT IS — ESPECIALLY WHEN WE HAVE SHARP DIFFERENCES OF OPINION — TO STOP LOVING SOME OTHER BORN AGAIN CHRISTIAN!
I recall the day I announced my resignation at a particular church. A certain man in the membership accused me of having planned this for a long time, and that I had been “bouncing around like a rubber ball that was flat on one side!” I told him, “I love you, Bro. _____, but God showed me only a few nights ago that I should resign.” He retorted, “I love you too, but . . .” I assure you, his accusation and unloving disrespect toward me hit home deep in my heart, and his reply, “I LOVE YOU TOO, BUT . . .” did not convince me that he REALLY DID love me!
Beloved, HE IS DECEIVING HIMSELF who claims to “love him that is begotten of God” while at the same time speaking to him with hard-hearted accusations and disrespect! It is no wonder that, within about 6-8 months after I resigned that church, the building was sold, and that church closed — probably forever!
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03 — THE THIRD N. T. USE OF “BROTHERLY LOVE”
Hebrews 13:1 — “Let brotherly love CONTINUE.”
FROM THE ADAM CLARKE COMMENTARY — Verse 1. Let brotherly love continue.] Be all of one heart and one soul. Feel for, comfort, and support each other; and remember that he who professes to love God should love his brother also. They had this brotherly love among them; THEY SHOULD TAKE CARE TO RETAIN IT. As God is remarkable for his “philanthropy” or love to man, so should they be for “philadelphia” or love to each other.
1 John 4:20-21 — “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? And this commandment have we from him, That HE WHO LOVETH GOD LOVE HIS BROTHER ALSO.”
Many may recall the story of the man who came to a sage, while holding a little bird in his hand, the bird being completely hidden from view. The man asked the sage, “Is the bird I hold in this hand LIVING or DEAD?”
Perceiving the questioner’s intention, the sage replied: — “The bird IS — whatever you wish it to be!”
Had the sage replied that the bird was DEAD, the man purposed to open his hand and LET THE BIRD LIVE and fly away. Conversely, had the sage replied that the bird was ALIVE, the questioner purposed crush it in his hand before opening the hand, displaying that the bird was DEAD!
Brother, Sister — the question God puts to each of us is: — Is BROTHERLY LOVE DEAD, or ALIVE in your heart?
The answer is: — IT IS, WHATEVER WE CHOOSE IT TO BE!
If, by hard-hearted, carnal hatred toward a fellow brother or sister, we have CRUSHED IT TO DEATH, then BROTHERLY LOVE NO LONGER CONTINUES living within our heart!
Or, if, on the other hand, by sweet, perfect love, ruling within our hearts toward all ALL others, especially toward other born again brethren, WE LET BROTHERLY LOVE CONTINUE TO LIVE WITHIN US, by manifestation of God’s Perfect Love toward them — in our heart attitude toward them, in the words we speak or write to them, and in the deeds we do unto them, THEN BROTHERLY LOVE INDEED CONTINUES within us!
Hallelujah! I am glad to be able to honestly say just now, “BROTHERLY LOVE CONTINUES” TO LIVE in my heart — and I am determined that, God being my helper, I SHALL NOT CRUSH IT toward others, EVEN IF I MYSELF AM CRUSHED by what others feel, think, say, write, and do toward me. THIS, I believe, is what it is going to take from every one of us who truly have God’s Love in our hearts, if we successfully “LET BROTHERLY LOVE CONTINUE”!