Brotherly kindness is a topic that must never become stale or outdated. The bonds of kindness that exist between Christian brothers and sisters is one of the clearest testimonies that we are in fellowship with God. “The one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him” (1 John 2:10). “This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:5-7). One of the best Biblical texts dealing with the importance of brotherly kindness is 1 John 4:7-21. In this article we’ll examine some of what this text teaches us regarding brotherly kindness.
Brotherly Kindness Shows That We Are God’s Children
First, brotherly kindness shows us that we are true children of God (1 John 4:7-8). God is the definition of love. He is the source of love. From God we learn that love is not mere sentiment but involves an act of the will. Love is a verb. God not only told us of His love, but He showed it in His divine act of love (cf. vv. 9-11). “We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (1 John 3:16, cf. John 3:16 & Rom. 5:6-8). For Christians, brotherly kindness should certainly be spoken, but what is most important is that this kindness is shown in deeds. Can we say that we are God’s children? We can if we have brotherly kindness one for another and if it is shown in our deeds.
Fellowship With God
Secondly, brotherly kindness brings us into fellowship with God (vv. 12-16). Of course, we cannot fellowship God as we do each other for God is not visible to us (v. 12, cf. John 1:18). However, when brotherly kindness abides within our hearts, then God abides in us through His Holy Spirit. It is impossible for one to say he has fellowship with God when he does not have kindness in his heart for his brothers and sisters in Christ. It is just as likely for an unloving person to be a child of God as it is for a fig tree to bear olives (cf. James 3:9-12). Just as Jesus said that the world would know that we are His disciples by the love we have for one another (John 13:34-35), so the world will know that we are not only disciples but also God’s children through our brotherly kindness.
Boldness and Confidence Before God
Finally, brotherly kindness gives us confidence in our standing before God. Many are unsure of their standing with God and face the idea of judgment with trembling uncertainty. Such need not be the case. Why? The answer is simply this. In brotherly kindness, we are as He is and as such, we are confident of our sonship. “Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world” (1 John 4:17). This knowledge that we are as He is comes from the love that we have for one another in our hearts. Those who still live in fear of judgment show that God’s love is not fully developed in their hearts (v. 18).
Brotherly Kindness Is NOT Optional
Brotherly kindness is NOT optional. Some live with self-deception. John gives a stern warning. “If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also” (1 John 4:20-21). Hate is a strong word. What is hate? It is no more, nor any less than the absence of love. For the true Christian, brotherly kindness is not optional. It is not something about which he can have a “take it or leave it” attitude.
Let us show brotherly kindness to one another! Love is of God. He is the source, definition and supreme example such. With brotherly kindness I leave “church going” behind and live as a true and authentic Christian and have bold confidence in my standing before God. Without this kindness, my “church going” and sacramental observances are nothing more than a hypocritical sham.