Monday, January 22, 2007

Brotherly Love - Our Wife

Brotherly love (kindness) and our spouse. Now there’s a topic for you. If we are to add brotherly kindness to our lives, it must fit in somehow with our interaction with those around us and that certainly would include our wife. Brotherly love in the Greek is philadelphia. The kind of love involved here is different from agape love in that it is more like tender affection. It is even used of the love the Father has for the Son in John 3:35. The interesting thing is that this word is never used in a command for us to love God in this way. Brotherly love conveys the thought of cherishing the object of love above everything else and is characterized by constancy. (Thoughts taken from Vines Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words.)

So in thinking this through it seems to me that we should exhibit this kind of love toward our wife. We promised to love and cherish her above all others when we said our vows on our wedding day, but how easy it is to get into a selfish mode of living. Other passages we have looked at speak of kindness and giving preference toward one another. Have you ever thought how much easier it is to give preference to co-workers and to be polite and considerate of them more so than it is to have these same characteristics toward our own wife? If you think about it, shouldn’t it actually be the other way around.

May God help us as we diligently add brotherly kindness to our lives, especially toward our wife.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Adding Brotherly Kindness

I’m continuing my series through 2 Peter 1:5-8.

According to 2 Peter 1:7 we are to provide brotherly love for (or in) our godliness. In other words, our piety is not to be such that separates us and isolates us from our brothers in Christ, but is to provide the foundation for brotherly kindness. Sometimes piety takes on a holier-than-thou attitude which tends to drive a wedge between Christians. How different true piety is from this sort of individualistic false piety.

Romans 12:10 gives us some idea of what’s involved in brotherly love. This passage tells us to “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another.” What this tells me is that brotherly love is more than just being friendly. It involves kindness and giving preference toward one another. I Peter 3:8 adds to that by telling us to have compassion, tender hearted and courteous. I Peter 1:22 adds that we should love one another with a pure heart.

Writing about brotherly kindness seems difficult to me because it seems like such an obvious thing to understand. What is there to explain? However, I think we men have difficulty with this. On the one hand we may develop a camaraderie that is kind of a macho guy thing, but lacks depth and courtesy and honesty. On the other hand we may not have developed any sort of brotherly relationship with other men and are attempting to go it alone. What God wants from us is a relationship that is deep, honest, courteous and having some component of tenderness and affection to it.
What’s a challenge to me in this passage is the fact that we are to be diligent in adding to our faith these various dimensions. How then does one go about adding brotherly love? If you have any thoughts or insight, I would enjoy hearing them.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Adding Godliness

According to 2 Peter 1:6, the next characteristic we are to provide in our faith is godliness. I had originally thought this word meant that our aim was to become like God as much as possible. The word actually means pious or devout. It has to do with a godward attitude that does what is well pleasing to Him. It involves the practice of the reverent disciplines which might be called religious duties. This would include such things as praying, meditation on the Word and participating in the worship and ordinances of the church. This kind of piety also includes a reverent respect for God's created order -- such areas as marriage, family, government and creation.

In 1 Timothy 4:7, the Apostle Paul tells us to reject profane and old wives fables and to exercise toward godliness. In elaborating on this point he writes in the next verse, “For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.”

It seems to me that this is an especially important point for those of us who desire to be faithful men. We men normally hold up physical strength as an ideal to be pursued. But even if that goal is achieved it is effective only for the length of this physical life. Usually our strength dissipates well before the end of our physical life. But in this passage we learn that godliness profits now and in the life that is to come. Doesn’t that have something to say about our priorities in life? Just as it takes exercise to increase our physical strength and endurance it takes exercise to increase and improve our godliness. If godliness consists of the religious duties and spiritual practices mentioned above, then to exercise ourselves toward godliness means to work at and make priorities out of such disciplines.

Paul elaborates on this in chapter 6 when he says that godliness with contentment is great gain. We are so easily distracted by what the world holds up as necessary for success and gain in life. Here again the real answer is basic and simple – godliness with contentment. We are to be content with such things as we have. Another component then of exercising toward godliness would be to develop the practice of thankfulness and contentment.
As we look forward to the year 2007, let’s focus on priorities and resolutions that fall in line with God’s will for us. Let’s be diligent in our pursuit of godliness.