“make every effort… to Christian affection add love.” [2 Peter 1:7 (GW)]
Steps 5-7 have everything to do with passion. Step 5 is experiencing a loving passion for God. Then Step 6 creates a passion for fellow believers. And finally, Step 7 focuses on passion for the lost world around us. We must let God enlarge our hearts step by step. In our life as a Christian, we are commanded to climb to the final height of God’s purpose for man by adding genuine love [agape] to our brotherly kindness.
The construction remember, says, “make every effort… to Christian affection add love. [2 Peter 1:7 (GW)] This is a progression because you are to add agape love to brotherly kindness. Therefore, brotherly love must be already practiced before you can add something new to this spiritual phase of life. Loving your Christian family is one thing, but passionately sacrificing your life for the general community [your neighbors and the enemies of God] is the ultimate act of love.
Genuine love is not magic, or unheard of in the secular world. For example, if your child, or father, mother [a close relative] were to contract a deadly disease or suffer a terrible accident and need a $250,000 operation, and did not have insurance to cover it, would you sell your home, car, furniture, cash in all investments, etc. to save their life? Almost everyone would do it in a heartbeat because your genuine love for your loved ones drives you to such sacrifice. You would not even have to think about it!
But, what if I needed the operation, would you do it for me? Every one of you would pray for me! Some might send a small donation. But the reality is, most of you would shrug your shoulders, comment on how heaven is a better place, and let me die!
The point is, “for God so loved the world that He gave us His Son.” God has more passionate, genuine love for every person on this planet than most people love their children. And beyond that, even though many love their kids like this, most do not even love their own spouse that much. Moms will put up with anything from their children, love them unconditionally and do anything for them, but divorce their husband for purely selfish reasons because of disappointments and disagreements. Even many criminals will die for their children but hate and hurt everyone else.
This is where the supernatural must come in, and why we are commanded to expand our hearts to practice genuine love as a controlling motive and focus of our mature faith. We are born selfish, so this extreme focus of life is the complete opposite. Brotherly kindness expands your heart to love fellow Christians with the same love you practice with close family. But, agape love greatly enlarges your heart beyond the church family, to love the world like Christ does, by continually sacrificing to save them from eternal damnation in hell! Only God’s power in a narrow road follower of Jesus can make such changes in a person.
The apostle Paul explains it in his second letter to the church at Corinth, Greece. “For if we have been beside ourselves, it has been for God’s glory; or if we are now in our right senses, it is in order to be of service to you. For the love of Christ overmasters us, the conclusion at which we have arrived being this—that One having died for all, His death was their death, and that He died for all in order that the living may no longer live to themselves, but to Him who died for them and rose again.”
“Therefore for the future we know no one simply as a man. Even if we have known Christ as a man, yet now we do so no longer. So that if any one is in Christ, he is a new creature: the old state of things has passed away; a new state of things has come into existence. And all this is from God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and has appointed us to serve in the ministry of reconciliation. We are to tell how God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not charging men’s transgressions to their account, and that He has entrusted to us the Message of this reconciliation. On Christ’s behalf therefore we come as ambassadors, God, as it were, making entreaty through our lips: we, on Christ’s behalf, beseech men to be reconciled to God.” [2 Cor 5:13-20 (WEY)]
Here is the definition from the Greek language for constraineth (KJV) [overmasters] = from (sun) and (echo); to hold together, i.e. to compress (the ears, with a crowd or siege) or arrest (a prisoner); figurative to compel, perplex, afflict, preoccupy :- constrain, hold, keep in, press, lie sick of, stop, be in a strait, straiten, be taken with, throng. – [Strong’s Talking Greek and Hebrew Dictionary].
I hope you can see that Paul explains that this type of love is God’s passion driving, pressing and controlling believers through grace [Phil. 2:13, the desire and power to do God’s will] to no longer live selfishly, but instead, focus and follow the will of Jesus with the same love He shared when sacrificing His life. He joyfully gave His life on the cross of torture and death for all mankind.
He has appointed all followers of Jesus to serve in His ministry of reconciliation, by broadcasting the message of His sacrifice. He sends us for the same reason the Father sent Him [John 20:21]. We must “make every effort” to be living sacrifices [Romans 12], and diligently spread the good news to the whole world. Without agape love driving you, you will not passionately accomplish this! And believe me, this clearly explains the reason John claims this is phase four, or the ultimate phase of Kingdom Living! It is the height of love for God and man.
Now here is the shocker for many believers, it is not a special calling for an elite few, but in time and with training from God, He intends to move you and everyone of His narrow road followers to this fourth phase of your life [Phase 4]! “For although, considering the long time you have been believers, you ought now to be teachers of others…” [Heb 5:12 (WEY)]
Let those words sink into you! Many Christians make excuses that they do not have to be a missionary, pastor, preacher, teacher, etc. because they have not been led or called to do it, as if you need a special bonk on the head before you are responsible for the world going to hell forever!
If you are truly born again, the grace of God will push you to do His will and join His ministry team! If you are a hypocrite, keep making excuses, you will end up in hell with the world anyway. And without agape love, you will ignore the fate worse than the death of your child, as you watch your community, nation, and world rush to eternal judgment.
The mature believer must see that their mission from God is the Great Commission of Matthew 28. The strong and faithful servant of God must have a passion for the lost world that launches him into serving in the ministry of reconciliation that the Lord leads them to join. This does not mean that you must be full-time missionaries but it might. This does not mean you become a pastor of a church, but it might. What it does mean is that your focus of ministry melts together with your job, whether you are a teacher, plumber, banker, or scientist. The apostle Paul’s job was a tent-maker, but he is known as a great missionary.
The older, mature leader must see that the mentoring and training of the immature and mature disciples rest upon their shoulders. The fire cannot go out! The passion and mission of God must be passed faithfully unto the next generations until Christ literally comes back to earth. Again “considering the long time you have been believers, you ought now to be teachers of others…”
Even in business and industry, good retired workers are treasured and called back as mentors and consultants to establish the base of work and employees. It is sad that in our day, most churches see the elderly as out of touch with “new innovations” and not valuable. I hope they wake up soon, the salvation and spiritual life of the church needs old-fashioned Biblical principles. God has not changed and His Word was established long ago.
We must go back to God’s Word as the only foundation of faith AND PRACTICE!