Love The Brethren

Bible Book: 1 Peter  1 : 22
Subject: Love, Christian; Unity; Fellowship; Love, Godly
Series: Helps To Holy Living
Introduction

We now turn to our second message in our four-part series on Helps To Holy Living. Peter reminded us in this first chapter of 1 Peter that we are to be holy even as God is holy. We are looking at three elements Peter shares to help us live holy lives in this world. The first message involved looking for the return of Christ. Certainly, if we look daily for the return of Jesus, it would change our way of living.

Today we turn to a second prompter to pure practice in the Christian life. Here we are told of the importance of loving the family of God. Peter tells us to love the brethren, and he was fully aware that Jesus had given this as a new commandment (John 13:34).

When Peter spoke of Christians loving one another, he used a common expression from his own era and time. He used the word “brethren,” but he was not speaking only to men but to all Christian men and women. We see this kind of gender neutrality in other places in the New Testament. For example, all Christians are deemed part of the “bride of Christ.” The term bride does not refer to females only but to all Christian men and women.

Our love for one another is to be sincere and faithful and if we fail to do this we cannot live holy lives. Anger, arguments, and schisms lead us into sinful behavior and hurt the cause of Christ. It is impossible to determine the damage done to the work of the Lord simply because Christian people refuse to love one another as Jesus taught us and ordered us.

Holy living requires a life of love among God’s people and this love is not necessarily an easy thing to do. Jesus must have become very exasperated with his fearful disciples – their lack of faith surely irked Him at times. But, Jesus never stopped loving them and ministering to them. We must learn to love each other through all the problems and differences that occur. I read a poem some years ago, the author of which I have long forgotten, which shares the idea of loving each other through all the circumstances and changes in life. It is a poem between a woman and a man:

"'Will you love me when I'm old a gray,'”

Said a girl to her steady,

'Yes, I'm sure I will', he replied,

'I've loved you through six shades already.'"

In fact, if we are to live holy lives, we must love each other through all the shades and changes that life brings to us. This is a challenge, but one that can be met.

Peter is telling us that we cannot be holy unless we learn how to love our brothers and sisters properly and faithfully. Note with me three things about how love in the church can help produce a holy life.

I. Received Love 22A

This love begins with the fact that we have received it from the Lord. In the world love, doesn't matter much. You can be a good salesman and not love the people to whom you sell your product. You can be an effective attorney and not love the people you represent. You can be a great baseball player and not love the fans that come to see you play. But you cannot be a holy Christian and fail to fully and totally love fellow believers.

Peter says that believers have "hupo/akouo," they have "come under" the voice of the Lord and have received His love in their hearts. In other words, the love we are to give is a love we have already received. Jesus did not love us because we were worthy; He loved us because it is His nature. We have received this love and we are to act in this received love. We are to give what we have been given.

A. Conversion

1 John 3:14f; See Galatians 5:22

This love came to us when we were converted. At salvation, God’s love came into our hearts and lives. The moment we were saved, we received God’s love and grace and receiving His love requires that we show His love to others. You are to love all those who are in the family of God. Yes, we love those who are not saved and long to see them come to Christ, but there is a special relationship between those who are saved. We are all in the family together. We are brothers and sisters. We may not always agree, but we must love!

B. Cleansing

He cleansed us when He saved us. He took away our heart of stone and gave us a new heart. Our old nature was washed away and His new nature was placed in us. We have His love in us because He cleansed us, and we are to reveal that in the way we think, act and speak.

II. Real Love 22B

Peter says that our loves is to be “sincere”. Sincere means "not faked." The word comes from the word "hypocrites," from which we get the word "hypocrite".

A. Enables Us

Sincere love enables us to accomplish things that are impossible without it. We cannot carry out God’s work without the help of other believers. We have differing gifts and various callings. When these are combined, we truly become the body of Christ. Loving one another enables us to do His love and this promotes holy living.

B. Intertwines us

Sincere love links us together. A chain is of little use if it has weak links. Where love is missing among God’s people, the links in the chain are weakened. When stress is placed on the chain, it breaks. True love stands up against the stresses that come in life. God’s people must be intertwined in a linkage of sincere love.

C. Identifies Us

John 13:34-35 reminds us that we will be known as disciples of Jesus by the display of our love for each other. We cannot live holy lives and represent our Lord properly when we act in anger or bitterness toward other Christians. Jesus said that the world will know we are His when they see our love. Why? This is true because that was the very nature of Jesus. Even dying on the cross Jesus proclaimed, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do.” His love revealed His nature. We reveal whether we belong to the Lord or to the world by our love or our lack of love. To live a holy life, love with a holy love!

III. Risky Love 22C

Yes, love is risky business. Some people will take advantage of our love, but that is a price we pay to be true followers of Jesus. Jesus’ love took Him to the cross, but look what it accomplished.

Edwin Markham once wrote,

"He drew a circle that shut me out

Heretic, rebel, thing to flout

But love and I had the wit to win

We drew a circle and took him in."

A. Inside Out - "deeply"

In order to love the way Jesus taught us, we must love from the inside out. If you love from the outside, your love will be weak and easily bruised. You must allow the love of Jesus to constrain you (2 Corinthians 5). There is the matter of dying to self and taking up one’s cross involved in this process. We must have a deep love and that kind of love leads to holy living.

B. Right Side UP - "from the heart"

Read Ephesians 4:30-32. Our love has to come from that which has been placed in our hearts by the Lord. We must love Jesus (veritcal love) and translate that into a love for others (horizontal love).

Conclusion

I know it is easy to talk about loving the way Jesus loves, but it is another thing to practice it. Holy living only becomes real when we practice this kind of love. This takes thought, prayer and sacrifice on our part.

There was a college professor who had no children of his own, but he became upset when he saw a father next door scolding his son for some infraction. He spoke to the father and said, “You should love your boy, not punish him."

One hot summer afternoon the professor was doing some repair work on a concrete driveway leading to his garage. Tired out after several hours of work, he laid down the towel, wiped the perspiration from his forehead, and started toward the house. At that very moment he turned to see the neighbor boy walking in the fresh cement he had worked so hard to repair. The professor rushed over, grabbed the boy and was about to spank him when the boy’s father leaned out the window and called to him saying, "Watch it, Professor! Don't you remember? You must 'love' the child!" The professor turned, and yelled back in anger, "I do love him in the abstract but not in the concrete!"

We have to possess and reveal a concrete love, one that continues even when we seem to get little love in return.

Someone once said, “People need loving the most when they deserve it the least."

All of us appreciate love that is given to us, but do we give it in the same measure and manner?

First, if you have never experienced the love of God, let me assure you that he loves you. He will save you today if you will simply admit that you are a sinner, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and confess Him as your Lord.

Secondly, many of us as Christians need to renew our love for Jesus and for others. Admit it; you fail in this area of Christian living. Make a new commitment today to love as Jesus loves you!