2 Peter 1:5–9 (NKJV)
5 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, 6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, 7 to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. 8 For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.
Thus far in Peter’s exhortation we have learned to employ all diligence as we add to our faith virtue, to our virtue knowledge, to our knowledge self-control, to our self-control perseverance, and to our perseverance godliness. Today we consider his command to add to godliness brotherly kindness.
Webster defines kindness as “the quality or state of being kind; having or showing a gentle nature and a desire to help others : wanting and liking to do good things and to bring happiness to others.”
Having urged us to achieve godliness, Peter now highlights the way that godliness of character is to shape our interaction with other people. And interestingly enough he insists that it should manifest itself in “brotherly kindness”: not in miserliness, not in grumpiness, not in super-spirituality, but in open hands and open hearts, wanting and liking to do good things and to bring happiness to others, especially to those who are of the household of faith.
One of the purposeful emphases of the CREC is a commitment to what we call “sunny Calvinism.” Calvinism is simply a nickname which summarizes the biblical teaching that God is the Lord over heaven and earth. He rules and reigns in human affairs and nothing can thwart His purposes or destroy His work. Has he spoken and will he not do it? Has he determined and will he not bring it to pass? God is the Lord – it is He who saves us and not we ourselves; it is he who preserves us and not we ourselves. In ourselves we are hopeless and corrupt, inclined to all evil. But God in His grace and mercy sent His Son Jesus to deliver us from sin and death; sent His Spirit to give us a heart to believe and a mind to understand. Grace, grace, all grace!
So this is Calvinism – and it is glorious good news! What we could not do weak as we were because of our sinful nature, God did in sending His own Son as the propitiation for our sins. So given this glorious good news – ought we not to be “sunny”? Joyful? Grateful? Thankful? And ought not this sunny, joyful, grateful and thankful disposition manifest itself in brotherly kindness? Absolutely!
Too often, however, the glorious truths of God’s Sovereignty, the unity of the Old and New Testaments, and our inability to save ourselves as human beings are twisted into a cudgel with which to beat our fellow Christians and those who don’t know Jesus. God is Sovereign and in control of all things – so let me show how true that is by doubting your salvation if you don’t understand it. God has been revealing His purpose to save the earth from sin and death ever since our rebellion against God in the Garden – so let me show how true that is by being a jerk and thwarting your salvation. We are unable to save ourselves – so let me show you how true that is by refusing to share with you the good news of Christ’s death and resurrection.
As Reformed folk we need to cultivate brotherly kindness.We are called to add to our godliness brotherly kindness - having or showing a gentle nature and a desire to help others : wanting and liking to do good things and to bring happiness to others. So are you looking for opportunities to practice kindness? This is our calling; this is our privilege.
Reminded of our calling and that we often refuse to help others when we are able, let us kneel and confess our sins to the Lord.