“Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God.” (1 Peter 1:22-23)
Peter penned the above passage in such a way as to make it abundantly clear that true, biblical, earnest love should be the natural outflow of the Christian’s heart for other brothers and sisters in Christ. Love for our brethren ought to be as natural as breathing.
The Oxford definition of the word earnest means to show “sincere and intense conviction.” To paraphrase the above verse, the apostle is telling us to love each other with sincerity, conviction, and passionate affection. And not only that, but with a “pure heart.”
This love we are to show each other is not only possible, but necessary because we have been born again. In other words, those of whom God has saved should be the most loving people; to all people, yes, but definitely to fellow believers.
And yet, we fail miserably at this command time and time again. Our earnest love is replaced by assumed motives, harsh accusations, and slander. Instead of loving other believers with a pure heart, we assume the worst of them. Instead of showing brotherly love, we display petty attitudes.
Of course, to love one another earnestly doesn’t mean we always get along. Families don’t always get along. Everything isn’t great all the time. Often our love will be expressed through rebuke, admonishment, or correction. Earnest love doesn’t mean earnest compromise. To compromise with other Christians is to not love them at all. Unfortunately, we fail on both sides.
Nevertheless, it would do us well to ponder the practicalities of this earnest love we are to exercise. Tensions and division are at an all-time high, definitely within the church. If you name a topic, there is probably a debate over it. From “social justice” to vaccines to baptism, the debates and arguments are endless. We are always bickering over something.
Maybe it’s high time to express earnest love for those of whom we disagree? Perhaps it’s time to lay down our preferences, lay down our desires, lay down our egos and love each other—even in our disagreements. There has been far too much earnest condescension and not enough earnest love.
It is when we remember that we have all been bought with a price—the blood of Jesus—that we can stop our griping, cease our bickering, and quit our quick judgments. It is when we remember that we have been born again—not from a perishable seed, but imperishable!—that we can truly express love for others that arises for a sincere, pure heart.
Do your brother or sister a favor. Tell them you love them. Honor them (Rom. 12:10). Straight up, straight forward—express your earnest love for them as a fellow member of the body of Christ. Text, call, email, chat in person—however you’d like. Instead of more unnecessary division and strife, let’s be intentional about our sincere, earnest love for fellow believers.
Let’s earnestly love our brothers and sisters because Christ earnestly loved us.
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