Teaching, Helping and Encouraging Spiritual Growth

Principles of Spiritual Growth 7

Good evening! I hope this series of teachings is making sense to you! In the last session we discussed what “godliness” is. In this session we are going to discuss what “brotherly kindness” and “love ” is. Along with godliness, brotherly kindness and love are the outcome of adding all the things to your faith that develop great spiritual strength and great depth in your faith. Adding these things bring the maturity and completeness to your faith that enables you to do the works God planned before time for you to do. These works are seen in godliness, brotherly and love. This is why it is so important for you to add these things to your faith. I’d appreciate any comments or questions if you have any! Thanks, Dick

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, brotherly kindness… (2 Peter 1:5-7 NIV)

Brotherly kindness is another result of adding goodness, knowledge, self-control and perseverance to your faith.
Brotherly kindness literally means, “Love of brethren.” Brotherly kindness is the mutual affection God’s children have for each other. This is brotherly love. Brotherly love is one of the defining characteristics of a mature Christian.

John 13:34-35 NIV [Jesus said] “A new command I give you; love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

How do people know that you are a disciple of Jesus? Jesus said that you are known as a disciple of Jesus if you love others the way He loved you. If you love one another, people can see that you are a real disciple of Jesus. How do you love like Jesus loved?

Brotherly kindness is standing in for Jesus and caring for your brothers and sisters in the same way Jesus did. You are there on behalf of Jesus to physically touch people and help with whatever kind of need they have. This is loving your brothers and sisters just as Jesus loved them. This is God’s plan for caring for His children. What is God’s plan to make this happen?

This is the message we have heard from the beginning: We should love one another. (1 John 3:11 NIV)

In this verse, the word for love means, “to love in a social sense; a family-like love.” Jesus commanded the people of His church to express their love for one another in social ways by spending time together and doing things like getting together for lunch, going to a ball game, or meeting somewhere with the kids. These kinds of social interactions change the church from a collection of independent, free-range believers, into a tight, connected, engaged, and loving family. This is God’s purpose in commanding us to love one another in the social sense.

Brotherly kindness is inclusive, not exclusive. Brotherly kindness opens its arms and embraces all the people in the church. There is no place in the church for “cliques.” Community is critically important in preparing the church to be the family of God and a place where real caring ministry can take place. It is God’s desire that His children are engaged socially with each other, and that they enjoy their time together. It is okay to laugh and have a great time with your Christian friends. As a matter of fact, Jesus commanded it.

God knows that your early social encounters in the church will lead to friendships and these friendships will grow into deeper, more committed and long-lasting relationships. These deeper relationships will open the door to real ministry. This is the kind of brotherly kindness, affection and love we are to add to our faith. This is the kind of church family God wants.

Brotherly Kindness Is About Encouragement

Hebrews 10:23-25 NLT Without wavering, let us hold tight to the hope we say we have, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Think of ways to encourage one another to outbursts of good deeds. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage and warn each other, especially now that the day of his coming back again is drawing near.

God wants His people to remain firm in their hope without wavering. There are some in God’s family that need to be reminded that their hope is based upon the promises of God, and that they can count on God, and to hold tight to those promises. In this way God wants His people to keep an eye on their brothers and sisters. When you see a fellow believer losing their spiritual momentum and struggling with doubt or something else, make it a point to encourage them.

Think of ways to encourage them to “outbursts“ of good deeds. This means that you help your brother or sister get back on track and return to living out the good deeds that come from God’s inspiration from within. You are to do this with a loving and encouraging word. Sometimes it only takes an encouraging word to reignite their commitment and enthusiasm to live for Jesus. Other times you need to be more assertive. Always be gentle and tender. However, do not let this believer drift away from the faith. Putting this off is not loving your brother or sister.

God also tells you not to neglect going to church because this is where you receive the consistent encouragement you need and regular check-ups on where you are in your walk with Jesus. If you see this brother or sister missing church more and more, talk to them. This is a sign that they are disconnecting from the family of God. It may be because of employment obligations or some other legitimate reason. However, if their absence is simply that they don’t want to go to church for some reason, then you have an obligation to gently and tenderly talk to them about it and give them encouraging word. This is loving your brother or sister. This is taking care of your brother or sister just as Jesus does. Don’t you think that the Holy Spirit is convicting them? Then do your part. Your roll is to be the physical presence of Jesus and encourage them to recommit themselves to doing the good deeds that are inspired by God’s grace in them.

God’s people really need the church. Their spiritual family is in the church. The church is where you are equipped for service through sound teaching. It is where ministry opportunities are made available. The church is where you are ministered to and where you minister to others. Being engaged with God’s people in church, and making good friends are the foundations for brotherly love and affection and real, meaningful ministry. Brotherly kindness is about encouraging your brothers and sisters spiritually and physically.

Brotherly Kindness Is About Sharing Your Possessions

The only thing that counts is faith that expresses itself through love. (Galatians 5:6 NIV)

The word love in this verse means, “affection, benevolence, and charity.” As you get to know your brothers and sisters better,  they open up and share with you more personal things. You become aware of their real needs. Seeing the physical or material need of your brothers and sisters and doing something about it is brotherly kindness. This is the kind of loving affection that sends a message to the world who observe your behavior can see that you are truly a disciple of Jesus.

Brotherly kindness is an expression of your willingness to sacrifice for your brothers and sisters, and care for them in their time of need. It reveals the same kind of compassion that Jesus felt for those in need. When you do things like this you are standing in for Jesus and ministering on His behalf by giving of your own resources. This is being like Jesus.

1 John 3:17-18 NIV If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and with truth.

Brotherly kindness is God’s love in action. It is being aware of the needs of your brothers and sisters and it is having a deep sense of compassion and pity that drives you to action. James puts it this way: Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? (James 2:15-16 NIV) Brotherly kindness is about knowing your brothers and sister’s material needs and doing something about it.

Brotherly Kindness Is About Worshiping God

Romans 12:1 NIV Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your act of worship.

Brotherly kindness is an act of worship. It is the decision of a believer to care for their spiritual family in tangible, material and physical ways. Through this, God is worshiped, honored, and glorified. This is what disciples of Jesus do.

John 13:34-35 NIV [Jesus said] “A new command I give you; love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

People know if you are a disciple if you are like Jesus. Making every effort to show the love of Jesus by caring for your brothers and sisters in Christ in visible, tangible ways sets you apart as a disciple of Jesus. You do this by engaging socially with God’s people in church, in a small group, or in a Bible study, or by helping with the toddlers or by participating in the band or playing on the softball team. The point is to be engaged with one another.

As your relationships grow stronger, the opportunities for ministry increase and your opportunities to worship God multiply.
God tells you that you are the ones who are to make a special effort to get involved and be connected at church. You are to stand in for Jesus and love our brothers and sisters in hands-on ways. Quit waiting for someone else to make the first step to befriend you. Take the initiative. Stick out your hand and introduce yourself to someone. Invite someone over to dinner or spend the day doing something together. Ask if the church needs help with something. Be proactive! Get involved! Get busy! This is how the family of God is supposed to work. When you show kindness, warm affection and love to others, you are known as disciples of Jesus. Isn’t it your goal to be a disciple of Jesus? Isn’t that what God commanded you to be? Add Brotherly Kindness to your faith!

Finally, add God’s love to your faith.

2 Peter 1:5-7 NIV 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, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, LOVE.

The last thing you are to add to your faith is love. This is “agape” love, meaning “God’s love.” This is love that reveals the essence of God. God’s love prefers others, wishes others well, cares about and for the welfare of others, values and prizes others, takes pleasure in others, and is unwilling to abandon anyone or see anyone perish. It is God’s love in you that is joyfully expressed to others to the fullest possible extent in every way possible.

This a perfect description of the love that Jesus has for all people. This is the kind of love you are to have for others.
God’s love encompasses the welfare of the saved and the lost. This is why God sent Jesus into this world. He did it, not because mankind loved Him, or wanted a relationship with Him, but because He loved man and wanted a genuine relationship with mankind.

Jesus was sent to seek and save the lost, and Jesus’ mission becomes your mission as well. This is the level of love that is willing to sacrifice anything to save the lost and is the culmination of the highest level of love there is. It reflects the sacrificial love that Jesus has for all people. In living out your salvation by practicing the things you are to add to your faith, you become the light of the world. The qualities you are adding to your faith can be seen in you. Your life brightly illuminates who God is and what God is like. Your faithful efforts to follow Jesus and live like Him shine the light of God’s love into every corner of every place you go. This is the mark of a real disciple of Jesus.

John 13:34-35 “A new command I give to you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Loving others is so important that God made it a command. God sent Jesus to be the perfect example of God’s love. You are to love like Jesus loved. Your goal is to conform to the likeness of Jesus, and this includes loving others in the same way Jesus does. “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” As you add the qualities we have studied to your faith your capacity to love others like Jesus loves grows exponentially. The more you conform to the likeness of Jesus the more your love for others grows. This is why you must never stop loving your fellow believers and non-believers alike. This kind of exceptionally loving behavior sets you apart as a disciple of Jesus. This is how God uses you to love His people on His behalf, and this is how you show unbelievers the real love of God through you. Loving others is a critical part of sharing your faith with others.

Love others. Prefer others. Care about and for others. Value and prize others. Sacrifice for others. Be aware that people are perishing. Pray for the perishing. Make every effort to keep people from perishing. Strive to reveal Jesus to others. Rejoice in the salvation of others. This is the kind of love that you are to add to your faith and has a real impact on the world around you.
For the disciple of Jesus, God’s purposes become their reason for existing. This is the ultimate expression of conforming to the likeness of the Son, and God is glorified by this.

This is the complete process of how you grow into a mature and complete disciple of Jesus. This is the Christian whose faith is fully grown and who lacks nothing more. This is the Christian who had developed into a fully qualified, well equipped servant of God ready to perform and fully achieve God’s will.

A true disciple of Jesus has new lifestyle habits that share the saving message of the gospel to the lost in their world instinctively. It becomes a part of their DNA. It becomes their lifestyle.

A true disciple of Jesus has tender affections for their brothers and sisters in the church and cares about and provides for their spiritual needs as well as the material needs of their church family in every way possible.

A true disciple of Jesus has a real desire to see the lost be saved from their sin and have eternal life with Jesus.

A true disciple of Jesus is willing to sacrifice anything to this end.

This is what a disciple of Jesus looks like. This is the picture of a Christian who have been transformed into a disciple of Jesus.

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