For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, 6 and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, 7 and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. – 2 Peter 1:5-7
When our sons were growing up there were times when the level of testosterone together with immature impatience and a strong need to be in charge brought something other than brotherly love to the surface. One time, in frustration, I said to our sons (we have four!), “Don’t treat my son that way. I love him!” On another occasion I told one son to treat his brothers like he treated his soccer opponents (his killer instinct never made it onto the field), and treat his soccer opponents like he treated his brothers!
I’m not sure Peter had in mind the kind of in-the-home brotherly love of that nature. Yet there is a brotherhood that is special, precious, and deep – a seedbed for a kindness of heart, a shoulder-to-shoulder camaraderie, and an affection that sends people across town to help a brother in need, or is willing to put up with peccadilloes and shortcomings because he knows his brother, and his brother knows him.
Brotherly affection grows out of shared experiences, common parentage, aligned values, a united world view, and a mutual desire to honor God – all steeped in God’s love for us and our recognition that God loves us in a special way who are in the brotherhood of believers.
This is not sexist; the same would be said for sisters; though the specific manifestation of it might be unique the foundations are all the same. What’s more, this is a call to affection, something more than an act of the will, but a movement of the heart toward the brother or sister in Christ.
When we let our hearts be touched by others’ hurts or joys we are best able to add brotherly affection to our faith, steadfastness, self-control, knowledge, and godliness. That is truly a beautiful adornment!