Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:2-11)
Adding the graces of God to Christian character takes a constant application of the heart to the word of God. The Holy Spirit did not randomly place words together simply to fill space but to emphasize the importance of one quality with another. Faith must be fortified with the many virtues that set the child of God apart from all men. Knowledge gives the disciple the weapons to defeat Satan and grow in Christ. Self-control allows the passions to be for the glory of God and perseverance instills a willingness to stay the course in the face of difficult storms. Godliness molds the character to possess a spirit of holiness and purity. The final two virtues enumerated by Peter are the bonds that hold the character of the Christian together. Brotherly kindness is learning how to love one another and to show that love in the proper manifestation of the brotherhood.
Brotherly kindness is the feeling that each member of the body of Christ is one. There is a unity of spirit, devotion, purpose and love. The unique makeup of the church is the diversity. People from all walks of life across international boundaries and cultures can join together in unison of one to worship the Lord because they have love for one another. The key ingredient is the Greek word ‘philadelphia’ or ‘love for brethren’ that sets the church of Christ apart from the world. When the early church began everyone had all things in common and no one had needs as the new Christians rallied together to care for one another. Sin marred the fellowship of the brotherhood when Ananias and Sapphira lied to the Lord but overall the spirit of the early church was filled with a new found love for brethren. Brotherly kindness is an integral part of the Christian character. There are no differences in gender, age, education, culture or background because the Lord is King to all and all gladly serves the same Lord. The character of loving the brethren comes from the realization that Jesus died for all men and all men must come under the same banner of love. Loving the brotherhood is sharing in the same joys and sorrows. When one members suffers all suffer; when a brother rejoices the feeling is mutual.
It is important to see the connection between brotherly kindness and godliness. Developing a spirit of godliness will create a heart filled with brotherly kindness. It is impossible to love God and hate a brother. When the character of godliness is established in the life of a child of God there will be a natural tendency to share that godly spirit to the brethren with kindness. One is dependent upon the other and is a vital part of the whole. Adding to faith the virtues of grace require all of the heavenly traits to be a part of the Christian character. Godliness proves brotherly kindness and brotherly kindness expresses the traits of knowledge, self-control and perseverance. No one is of greater importance but none are required less than the other.
Brotherly kindness is faith that is shown by works. James discusses that faith without works is dead. John explains in his first epistle that if someone says they love God and hates their brother, they are a liar. Jesus taught His disciples the world will know their character by whether they love one another. From the beginning of time the need of ‘philadelphia’ has always been required by God. Cain killed Abel because he did not love his brother. The history of man is filled with the failures of brotherly love. Jesus died to establish the church that would glorify the character of brother love. This must be seen in action; not just in word. Brotherly love is caring for the person sitting on the other side of the pew, the downtrodden, the weak member and all those who make up the body of Christ. We cannot judge others more important than those of lesser state because brotherly love demands we share with all those who are in the body of Jesus Christ. Add brotherly love to godliness is a natural response to knowing what God has done for me. How can I not love my brother when I see how much God loves me? Add the virtue of brotherly kindness and see how different your life will be.