1 Peter 1:22-23
Seeing you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit to unfeigned love of the brothers…
The obedience and holiness mentioned in the foregoing verses comprehend the whole duties and frame of a Christian life towards God and men; and having urged that in the general, he specifies this grace of mutual Christian love as the great evidence of our sincerity and the truth of our love to God, for men are subject to much hypocrisy this way, and deceive themselves. They can come constantly to the church, and pray, it may be, at home too, and yet cannot find in their hearts to forgive an injury.
I. THE DUE QUALIFICATIONS OF BROTHERLY LOVE.
1. Love must be unfeigned. It appears that dissimulation is a disease that is very incident in this particular. St. Paul hath the same word (Romans 12:9), and St. John speaks to the same effect (1 John 3:18). He requires that our love have that double reality which is opposed to double dissembled love; that it be cordial and effectual; that the professing of it arise from truth of affection, and, as much as may be, be seconded with action; that both the heart and the hand may be the seal of it rather than the tongue. When after variances men are brought to an agreement, they are much subject rather to cover their remaining malices with superficial verbal forgiveness than to dislodge them and free the heart of them. This is a poor self-deceit. As the philosopher said to him who, being ashamed that he was espied by him in a tavern in the outer room, withdrew himself to the inner, "That is not the way out; the more you go that way, you will be the further within it"; so when hatreds are, upon admonition, not thrown out, but retire inward to hide themselves, they grow deeper and stronger than before.
2. It must be pure, with a pure heart. Call it good fellowship or what you will, all the fruit that in the end can be expected out of unholy fellowship in sinning together is to be tormented together, and to add each to the torment of the other. The mutual love of Christians must be pure, arising from such causes as are pure and spiritual, from the sense of our Saviour's command and of His example (John 13:34). They that are indeed lovers of God are united; by that their hearts meet in Him as in one centre: they cannot but love one another. Where a godly man sees his Father's image, he is forced to love it. And as the Christian's love is pure in its cause, so in its effects and exercise. His society and converse with any tends mainly to this, that he may mutually help and be helped in the knowledge and love of God.
3. We must love fervently, not after a cold indifferent manner. Let the love of your brethren be as a fire within you, consuming that selfishness which is so contrary to it and is so natural to men. Let it set your thoughts on work to study how to do others good. Let your love be an active love, intense within you, and extending itself in doing good to the souls and bodies of your brethren as they need and you are able.
II. "Love of the brethren." In this is implied OUR OBLIGATION after a special manner to love those of the household of faith, because they are our brethren. There is in this fervent love sympathy with the griefs of our brethren, desire and endeavour to help them, bearing their infirmities, and recovering them too, if it may be; admonishing and reproving them as is needful, sometimes sharply, and yet still in love; rejoicing in their good, in their gifts and graces, so far from envying them that we be glad as if they were our own. You are brethren by the same new birth and born to the same inheritance, and such an inheritance as shall not be an apple of strife amongst you, to beget debates and contentions: no, it is enough for all, and none shall prejudice another, but you shall have joy in the happiness one of another, seeing you shall then be perfect in love, all harmony, no difference in judgment nor in affection, all your harps tuned to the same new song, which you shall sing forever. Let that love begin here which shall never end.
Parallel VersesKJV: Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: