Step Up

“And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:5-8)

Everybody loves kids. Their immaturity, energy, and lack of sense makes them fun and entertaining to be around. Nobody faults them for those qualities, they just expect them after all, they’re just kids! Just kids…
And so you expect that when you see someone who is shaving, driving, or married with kids of their own, that they have matured to adulthood. In the world today, not much surprises me, but still there are those natural expectations. You grow out of bed-wetting. You grow out of sucking your thumb. And if I see a 30-something still in diapers, I KNOW something has gone wrong.
Grow UP already. There are plenty of young men and women who have grown out. They have no temperance or self control. Others have grown weary. These only do what is entertaining to them; anything else is too much work. Responsibility is out- and normal diversions are taken to the extreme (novels, late night TV programs, abnormal relationships). The majority of mankind just grow old
God’s idea of growing is maturing. God never intended to foster overgrown babies, The signature of growth is productivity. Psalm 1 says, “that bringeth forth his fruit in his season.” Galatians 5 states, “But the fruit of the Spirit is…” and our text emphasizes, “neither be barren nor unfruitful.” 
No root, no fruit. The right steps in the right direction, and not more than a step at a time. Baby steps. One at a time.
So he says brotherly kindness. I think if a modern Christian were only to attain ‘godliness’ they would think they had arrived! Godliness makes good pastors, teachers, workers, and friends. Brotherly kindness makes GREAT ones.
God commands “that ye love one another”. He identifies his children as “every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.” He very specifically lays it all out in 1 John 3:14, “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren.”

Many a ‘mature’ Christian has ceased to grow, and never have gone to the next step of kindness. Somehow they think it’s beneath them to “speak the truth in LOVE” when they could just as easily speak the truth with a short temper, with contempt, and with malice toward someone not up to their standard. When that happens, they have started the timer counting down to the end of their usefulness. When the tree stops growing, it begins to die- and the fruit goes with it.
Now make no mistake about this step. It does NOT say: love everybody, or universal kindness. The Lord’s regiment of tolerance is exclusive to saved  brothers and sisters. In the Lord, you are supposed to be kind; understanding and forgiving, graceful, lenient, compassionate, able to take disagreement, resolving conflicts without sacrificing the relationship. This world is not the subject of your kindness. To be kind to the world is giving them the status of friend, when the Bible is clear in its contradiction: “Friendship of the world is enmity with God”. 

In this ONE respect, of all these steps, the children of God trip all over their feet and tread all over the Son of God, because they try to take the last step first. Did God so love the world? Yes. Does God commend His love toward men while they are yet sinners? Yes. But don’t shut down your learning of the Scripture! Before he loved you as you were, He loved what you would become. Ephesians 1:4, “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself… wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. We will be like Jesus Christ one day. God loves His Son more than everything in this world, and everything His Son loves, He treasures. So should you and I.
Christians often have no time for their brothers and sisters in Christ. And worse than that, they feel no guilt for breaking this very needful commandment. We feel guilty for not witnessing, because we know people are headed for a devil’s hell, but we justify our careless, calloused and cold heart toward other church members. We reason that they are saved and Heaven-bound, what more could they need? And that’s just it… THEY don’t.
“He that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen how can he love God whom he hath not seen?” Good question, John. The lost do not receive salvation because WE love them. They can be saved because GOD loved them. We are not doing the work of God by observing the commandments of our choice. The issue is not: ‘I must love the sinner or else he’ll die without Christ’ but rather: ‘I must love the Christ who loved the sinner and what He loves, I must love.” Trust me, no one who gives his heart (the seat of affections) to Jesus, to love what he loves, is ever misled. “My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways.” This step of kindness toward the brethren is a re-emphasis and confirmation of your love for Christ. Don’t miss this step! You’ll fall and break your neck!

Dear brothers and sisters in the Lord, let’s step back, and evaluate how we have grown. If we have skipped this level, all areas beyond it will be stunted, mutated, or they are simply non-existant. Look again unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. His way is perfect- so let brotherly love continue, and grow His way.

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