Paul said, “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality.”
“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Never pay back evil for evil to anyone.”
“Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord. ‘But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:10-21 NASB)
Paul encouraged us to remember, “If therefore there is any exhortation in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any tender mercies and compassion, make my joy full by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind; doing nothing through rivalry or through conceit, but in humility, each counting others better than himself; each of you not just looking to his own things, but each of you also to the things of others.” (Philippians 2:1-4 WEB)
Peter reminded us, “Seeing you have purified your souls in your obedience to the truth through the Spirit in sincere brotherly affection, love one another from the heart fervently, having been born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, through the word of God, which lives and remains forever.” (1 Peter 1:22-23 WEB)
Webster defines kindness as, “An act of good will; an act of benevolence which promotes the happiness or welfare of others; a disposition which delights in contributing to the happiness of others, which is exercised cheerfully in gratifying their wishes, supplying their wants or alleviating their distresses.”
Foundational Thoughts on Brotherly Kindness
“Brotherly Kindness refers to treating others as if they were members of our own family. It includes living in such close relationship with others that we bear one another’s burdens and feel each other’s joys and pains. We make room for others’ opinions, feelings, ideas, and suggestions. Brotherly love is the key to living in true and harmonious community.” [Swindoll 298]
“Believers are to love one another. Our church services are family gatherings. As we are led to worship our heavenly Father by our elder Brother, Jesus Christ, we are knit together as brothers and sisters in the Lord. We need each other and [need to] love one another in tangible ways.” [Ivill 110]
“Brotherly Kindness is a virtue that Peter must have acquired the hard way, for the disciples of our Lord often debated and disagreed with one another. If we love Jesus Christ, we [need to] love the brethren. We [need to] practice an ‘unfeigned [sincere] love of the brethren’ (1 Peter 1:22) and not just pretend that we love them.”
“‘Let brotherly love continue’ (Hebrews 13:1). ‘Be kindly affectionate one to another with brotherly love’ (Romans 12:10). The fact that we love our brothers and sisters in Christ is one evidence that we have been born of God (1 John 5:1-2).” [Wiersbe 25-26]
OT Biblical Life of Brotherly Kindness
Jonathan and David exemplified an Old Testament relationship of brotherly kindness. After David killed Goliath with a sling and a stone, he was brought before King Saul to answer questions about himself and his family.
“When David had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. Saul took him that day, and wouldn’t let him go home to his father’s house any more.”
“Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul. Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David with his clothing, even including his sword, his bow, and his sash.” (1 Samuel 18:1-5 WEB)
The first time Jonathan and David met, Jonathan’s heart was knit to David’s soul; he loved David; and Jonathan recognized that David had been chosen ruler, so he blessed him. Jonathan was not jealous. Jonathan had love and graciousness for David free from guile.
Saul versus Jonathan
Unfortunately, King Saul became jealous and suspicious of David when he heard the people singing, ‘Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.’ Though David did acts of kindness and great service for King Saul all his days; King Saul was jealous, angry and full of hatred because others praised David higher than himself.
This is such a sad commentary of King Saul’s heart. If he had returned David’s love and honored him, he could have experienced a camaraderie similar to what Jonathan and David experienced. But Saul did not. As it became evident that King Saul was going to kill David out of jealous anger, David fled for his life.
Jonathan warned David of his father’s evil intentions, blessed David as his future king, and reiterated his heart’s covenant of brotherly kindness toward David as his friend. Jonathan and David experienced a beautiful friendship, full of love, brotherly kindness, and free from competition or envy.
NT Biblical Life of Brotherly Kindness
Barnabas and Paul experienced life through acts of brotherly kindness and a mentoring relationship. “Barnabas recruited Paul to help him teach the new followers of Christ in Antioch (Acts 11:25-26). Barnabas guided Paul during his development from a novice follower of Christ to the greatest propagator of the faith in the early church.” [RU 1]
“Barnabas plays a role here consistent with his role throughout the book of Acts (Pohill 59). Barnabas encouraged the church in Jerusalem (Acts 4:36-37), encouraged the new believers in Antioch (11:22), brought Paul along to work in Antioch (11:25-26), accompanied Paul on his first missionary journey (13:2-3), and took Mark…when Paul refused to continue working with Mark (11:38-39).” [RU 2]
“Mentoring was a lifestyle for Barnabas. Barnabas guided Paul by spending time with him and letting Paul observe him interact with new believers at Antioch (Acts 11), church leaders (Acts 13), and non-believers in their first missionary journey.” [RU 3]
“Barnabas went to Tarsus to seek Paul’s assistance in teaching the believers in Antioch. (Acts 11:25-26). During their year together in Antioch, they were able to teach a great many people during their stay (Acts 11:26).”
And Barnabas and Paul were chosen to take a special offering of famine relief to the believers in Judea. “Paul learned, two vital functions of apostolic work were teaching and ministering to the physical needs of people.” [RU 4]
Barnabas and Paul experienced brotherly kindness with each other and they expressed brotherly kindness to the people they served.
Historical Life of Brotherly Kindness
Mother Teresa was born in Yugoslavia (now Macedonia) to Albanian parents. Since the age of 12, she felt she had a call to help others. At the age of 18, she left her family to become a missionary to India.
Originally, she taught wealthy children in Darjeeling, then moved to Calcutta to teach geography in a high school made up of children from middle-class families. Located near the school were the slums of Calcutta.
Mother Teresa went to the slums on Saturdays to help the poor and suffering people who were starving and dealing with open sewers and disease. After contracting tuberculosis, she went to Darjeeling to rest, “It was there that Mother Teresa decided she was being called to ‘serve the poorest of the poor.’
Living with the Poor
She was granted permission to leave her teaching and serve the poor. She “had no place to stay, no food, and only two dollars with her. She began wearing the traditional clothing of India. She chose sandals and a simple, inexpensive white sari trimmed in blue. This clothing was similar to the dress of the common people of India.”
She received medical training from American Medical Missionaries, became a citizen of India, and lived among the poor. “She begged for food and supplies to help the poor. She began teaching children how to care for themselves.”
Love with Joy
Mother Teresa “believed that in order to love the person you are serving, you must serve them cheerfully. She taught the missionaries to ‘keep the joy of loving the poor and share this joy with all that you meet. And remember works of love are works of peace.”
When Mother Teresa realized there was “need for a home to care for those who were dying alone in the streets of Calcutta, Mother Teresa requested a place from city officials. She was given a building next to the temple.”
She named the home, Pure Heart, and made it a place “where the homeless, dying individuals were washed, given food, and allowed to die with dignity.” People began to bring dying people from the streets to her home to receive love and care.
Mother Teresa established homes all over the world for the sick, the dying, the orphans, the lepers, the aged, and the disabled. She embraced walking in brotherly kindness, love, grace, service and honor to the ‘least of these’ in India. [Laux]
Modern-Day Life of Brotherly Kindness
The beginning of the Red Cross: The Red Cross was founded in 1859, after the Battle of Solferino (in Italy), when French Emperor Napoleon III (who led the French and their Sardinians allies against Austrian troops) experienced an overwhelming number of wounded (40,000) and dead (6,000). Some of the wounded (9,000) visited the nearest village (Castiglione) in search of food and water. Henry Dunant and local women cared for the wounded and dying for three days and three nights in their church. [Dunant]
During the Civil War in America, “Like many women, Clara Barton collected bandages and other much-needed supplies, but she soon realized she could best support the troops by going in person to the battlefields. Clara Barton risked her life to bring supplies and support to soldiers in the field during the Civil War. Throughout many major battles of the war, she nursed, comforted and cooked for the wounded, earning the nickname the ‘Angel of the Battlefield.’”
After the Civil War ended, Clara Barton traveled to Europe and became aware of the Switzerland-based Red Cross in Geneva. When she returned home, she founded the American Red Cross in 1881, and served as its president for 23 years. She resigned at the age of 83.
“Her legacy to the nation – service to humanity – is reflected in the services provided daily by the employees and volunteers of the American Red Cross.” [FCB]
Today, the “American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid.” [We are the American Red Cross]
Personal Life of Brotherly Kindness
I remember when the fertilizer plant in West exploded on April 17, 2013. Fifteen people died, 260 people were injured, and 150 homes and businesses were damaged or destroyed. Many in the Waco area rallied to assist. Our family helped sort donated clothes.
One person who stands out because of how he walked in brotherly kindness with the West Community, is Kirk Wines. He is the pharmacist at the Old Corner Drug in West. Kirk Wines worked tirelessly for days re-filling prescriptions for people who lost everything, including their medications, in the explosion.
Kirk Wines had to call in each prescription and attain special permission to have it refilled. Though he was grieving for the loss of his friends, he explained the story again and again why he needed the prescriptions to be refilled early, so that the people of West could obtain their needed medications. Kirk Wines did many acts of good will which supplied people’s health needs and alleviated some of their distress during a community crisis.
Thank you, Lord, for helping us to respond to those around us in need. We desire to be Your hands and feet to those who are in distress. Give us wisdom, multiply our resources, and give us strength to serve joyfully those requiring assistance whether through life circumstances or natural disasters.
For further reading on life and godliness, see Lisa’s post on Life and Godliness: Foundation and Faith https://strengthwithdignity.com/life-and-godliness-foundation-and-faith/
And Life and Godliness: Knowledge https://strengthwithdignity.com/life-and-godliness-knowledge/
1 Samuel 18:1-5, 7; Romans 12:10-21; Philippians 2:1-4; Hebrews 13:1; 1 Peter 1:22-23; 1 John 5:1-2
Dunant, Henry. A Memory of Solferino. International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Retrieved from https://www.icrc.org/en/doc/resources/documents/misc/57jnvr.htm
Ivill, Sarah. 1 Peter, 2 Peter and Jude: Steadfast in the Faith. RHB, 2017.
Founder Clara Barton. The American Red Cross. Retrieved March 22, 2021 from https://www.redcross.org/about-us/who-we-are/history/clara-barton.html
Laux, Libby. Mother Teresa: The Macedonian woman who chose to serve India’s “poorest of the poor and live among them and like them.” Philanthropic Studies, Center on Philanthropy, Indiana University. Retrieved March 22, 2021 from https://www.learningtogive.org/resources/mother-teresa
New American Standard Bible, Copyright 1960, 1971, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation.
Pohill, John B. Paul and His Letters. Tennessee: Broadman and Holman Publishers, 1999.
Rivera, Orlando. Mentoring Stages in the Relationship between Barnabas and Paul. From Biblical Perspectives, School of Global Leadership & Entrepreneurship, Regent University. Published May 2007. Retrieved March 22, 2021 from https://www.regent.edu/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/rivera.pdf
Swindoll, Charles R. Swindoll’s Living Insights: New Testament Commentary – James – 1 & 2 Peter. Tyndale House Publishers, 2014.
We are the American Red Cross. The American National Red Cross. Published March 3, 2016. Retrieved March 22, 2021 from https://www.redcross.org/about-us/news-and-events/news/We-Are-The-American-Red-Cross.html#:~:text=The%20American%20Red%20Cross%20shelters,military%20members%20and%20their%20families.
Webster’s 1828 Dictionary. Retrieved February 22, 2021, from http://webstersdictionary1828.com/
West Fertilizer Company Explosion in West, Texas. From AIChE Safety and Chemical Engineering Education: Accidents and Prevention series. CSB Safety video. Retrieved March 23, 2021 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HyBdAT_yCFQ
Wiersbe, Warren W. Be Alert: Beware of Religious Imposters – NT Commentary 2 Peter, 2 & 3 John, Jude. Victor Books, 1984.
World English Bible (WEB) by Public Domain. The name “World English Bible” is trademarked.