1 Peter 3:8
Finally, be you all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brothers, be pitiful, be courteous:…
Finally, be ye all like-minded, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous. Only a colon separates this passage from what follows: ought it not, therefore, to be taken with the subsequent verses? I think not. Peter is evidently thinking here of the mutual relation of believers; whilst in the next verse he passes to the thought of how Christians should treat their persecutors: "Not rendering railing for railing," etc. Then why should there only be a colon between the two? Because the two are so closely connected. It is in fellowship with our brethren that we find much of the inspiration we need for facing and conquering persecution from without.
I. BROTHERLY LOVE THE IDEAL OF A CHRISTIAN CHURCH. Is it possible for a Christian to have no practical relationship with the Church? I do not say that it is not possible, but such a position is very unlikely. A Christian is he who is born into the family of God, and a certain close relationship to the Father's other children is, in the nature of the case, almost inevitable.
1. By brotherly love we come nearest to the spirit of the Father. The feelings which are classed under the term "love" vary considerably. Love may be due to admiration for the personal qualities of another, to a common interest in Church matters, to a sense of obligation, the fruit of gratitude; but there is nothing essentially Christian in all that. Brotherly love is to love another because he is our brother, and for no other reason; not because there is anything lovely in him, but just because we have a common father. Brotherly love towards God's children - that is Divine; that is to be of one spirit with the Father; that is to feel in measure as he does.
2. By brotherly love we come nearest to the example of Christ. The Church is to be a perpetual representation of Jesus - what he was and is. By his gracious Spirit he is embodied in his people; and they most truly approach his likeness who love those who are his. He loves the world; he died to save it; but he has a love of fellowship for those who come to him out of the world that he can have for no others, his love, his joy, his work, his life, his glory, all theirs; reaching the climax in the prayer, "That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us.'
3. By brotherly love we come nearest to the fulfillment of our mission as a Church. The Church has a mission to itself as well as to the world. Christians are banded together in fellowship for mutual help; they are united that they may build up one another; and this building up is to be done by love. What will not love do for the brethren? It will encourage the timid, help the weak, uphold the infirm, seek the wandering, give the vigor of joy to those who are strong, will stoop even to wash the disciples' feet. The Church, fulfilling her mission to herself in love, thereby begins her mission to the world.
II. WE HAVE HERE A WARNING- AGAINST TWO HINDRANCES TO THIS IDEAL.
1. Divergence of aim. "Be ye all like-minded." That does not mean unanimity of sentiment and action in all matters; for that is manifestly impossible. Variety of thought and feeling and action there must obviously be; but there is, of course, a limit to this variety. The Church cannot fulfill her calling as the "pillar and ground of the truth" unless there be a consent of opinion as to what that truth in its essential features is. We have different work, different positions in the Church, and sometimes different views as to the best things to do; but if Christian love is to be maintained, as the different colors into which the prism diverges the light - red, and purple, and orange, and the rest - all blend and are lost in the pure white ray they form, so we must learn the secret of blending our differences in a holy unanimity. Perhaps nothing is harder than to sink, and that gracefully, so that no one knows we are doing it, our personal feeling into the common feeling of the rest. How can all be like-minded? In the Revised Version the word "courteous" drops out, and in its place we have "humble-minded." That is it; heart-culture, personal discipline, stern struggle, are needed if we are to be like-minded, laying a strong hand on self, and keeping it under when it wants to rise.
2. Exclusiveness of feeling. "Compassionate (the Greek word is συμπαθεῖς, our word, "sympathy," fellow-feeling). Our Churches are not always conspicuous for that. They are often broken up into little sets, little bands of friends complete in themselves; then farewell to the reign of Christian love, with its benediction, and in its place expect hard thoughts, bitter feelings, wounded spirits, lonely lives, and the curse that means. But how can we get this compassion? The apostle adds, "tenderhearted" (as the same Greek word is rendered in Ephesians 4:32), and in that he may be showing us how to secure the like-heartedness. It comes from keeping the heart tender. We must live much with Christ; a tender heart will come from that, and a like tenderness with his people.
III. WE HAVE HERE THE INFLUENCE OF OUR ATTAINMENT OF THIS IDEAL (OF BROTHERLY LOVE) ON THE WORLD. The Church has a mission to those who are without; but that will not be fulfilled till her mission to herself is fulfilled. A Church building up herself in love will be the Church which compels the Gentiles to "glorify God in the day of visitation."
1. The Spirit works where love is. Absence of love is to him an ungenial atmosphere; it grieves him and tempts him to depart, or to withhold his gracious influences.
2. The beauty of piety reveals itself where love is. Love which is independent of the restraints of natural affection, and loves men not because they are good, but because God loves them; love which is disinterested and strong to sustain and protect, and tender to make common cause with those who need it, and which sheds a holy grace over the life; - that love will at least constrain the world to acknowledge its Divinity, and we may expect to hear more frequently that welcome utterance, "I will go with you, for I perceive that God is with you." And God himself will triumph over such, in the ancient words, "I drew them with cords of love." - C. N.
Parallel VersesKJV: Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: