I live in Philadelphia — "The City of Brotherly Love" — and the word is actually used in the original. I find that ironic, since my city is typically infamous for not loving its own residents or welcoming visitors, but the word "philadelphia love" in this context means familial.
Brotherly love stands alongside another person and shares common ground. As Christians, we all have one identity: saved by grace, and now works of grace in progress. Maybe the best way to phrase it is by calling it "level-playing-field love."
It saddens my soul to look across the church and see how little brotherly love exists. In its place is self-righteousness and "holier than thou" attitudes. I wish I could say I wasn't part of that problem, but I am.
3. Earnest Love
The love of God is zealous, actively looking for ways to serve. Instead of waiting for opportunities to drop into our lap, we should earnestly seek out those opportunities or create them ourselves.
Let me give you a really simple and practical way to express this earnesty. Don't wait for your church to request babysitting volunteers for its next event. Instead, find a family in the church with young kids. Buy the parents a gift voucher for dinner, and offer to babysit their children for the night. What a blessing that could be for a mom and dad!
The same earnesty should be expressed with non-Christians. Instead of waiting for the annual street clean-up, round up your family and find someone in your neighborhood who struggles to keep up with yard maintainence. Mow their lawn, pull their weeds, and bake them cookies. They might look at you funny to start, but they'll wonder what's motivating your behavior.
Our God loves actively. He pursues and enters our world. How can you earnestly and proactively incarnate the love of the Lord Jesus Christ in a situation, relationship, or location?
4. Pure Love
Purity and sincerity are similar when it comes to love. When you ask someone, "How are you doing?" you should be sincerely interested in what's happening in their life and where they're struggling. In the same way, pure love has no hidden interests or mixed motives.
I know my love isn't always pure. Maybe this will resonate with some of you: you haven't seen someone in a while and you don't have any interest in building a relationship, but then an opportunity arises where they could do something helpful for you. All of a sudden, you're eager to express "love" towards them, but in fact, you might only be loving yourself in that moment and using them to further your self-love.
Peter challenges us to love with a single motive: because we should want to be a part of God's good work in their life. We don't "love" others because we want something from them, or to place them in our debt for future bargaining. No, we love with purity.
An Impossible Call?
I don't know about you, but when I read 1 Peter 1:22, I think it's impossible. Often times I finish typing up these articles and think, "Do I even have the right to post this?" I hold these truths in my hands and feel so unworthy. If you were to scan my life, you'd quickly discover that Paul Tripp is such a poor example of sincere, brotherly, earnest, and pure love.
And, I would be right — this call would be impossible — if it weren't for the next verse. Check out 1 Peter 1:23— "Since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God."
You see, you never get your ability to love in this way from within yourself or from the person you're called to love. No, when God calls us to love one another, he always gives us himself.
May this article remind you to love sincerely, in a brotherly way, with earnestness of heart, and purity of motive for the sake of God's people and for the furtherance of his Kingdom.