Roger M. Hendricks
“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” (1 Pet. 1:22).
The New Testament abounds with admonitions for us to love one another. “… ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another” (1 Thess. 4:9). “Let brotherly love continue” (Heb. 13:1). “And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also” (1 John 4:21).
The word “unfeigned” is from the Greek word anypokriton and is derived from a (not) and hypokrites (actor); thus, not an actor. An unfeigned love is a genuine love. A feigned love is a pretended love. It is to be regretted that much of the “brotherly love” which exists in the church is of the latter caliber; viz. hypocritical, feigned, make believe, “put on.”
Necessity of Unfeigned Love
The Word of God clearly teaches that “unfeigned love of the brethren” is a necessity. This can be seen by examining the Bible.
One means of determining whether one is a true Christian or a hypocrite is to discover his attitude toward his brethren. “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death” (1 John 3:14). “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35). Those who are truly Christians are to have a fervent, genuine love for their brethren.
One must love his brethren in order to love God. This is the teaching of John in 1 John 4:20. “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?” The answer is obvious—he cannot! Now, if one does not love, he does not know God. “…every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God” (1 John 4:7-8). Those who do not know God will be condemned (2 Thess. 1:7-9). Hence, those who do not love their brethren will be condemned.
To lack “unfeigned love of the brethren” is to be blind. Peter mentioned “brotherly kindness” (philadelphian—“love of the brethren”) along with other Christian characteristics in 2 Peter 1:5-8. He who lacks the characteristics mentioned is “blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins” (v. 9).
Without “unfeigned love of the brethren” and of God (these two go hand-in-hand) all else is vain and meaningless (1 Cor. 13:1-3). True love for fellow laborers is essential in the lives of those who would be pleasing to the Almighty. Many are not cognizant of this fact or else they have forgotten that it is so.
Manifestations of Unfeigned Love
The possession of a true love for my brother will cause me to be slow in believing evil reports concerning him. Too often we are eager to learn of something amiss in the lives of our brethren. We desire to hear of something which they have done so that we can use it against them. Debaters sometimes stoop so low as to search for mud that they might sling at their opponents. With this hypocritical attitude, it is easy for one to accept as being true those reports which are utterly false. I fear that far too much of this abominable attitude is being evidenced in the brotherhood today.
If I have an unfeigned love for my brother, I shall pray to the Father in his behalf. How often do we utter petitions to God in behalf of those with whom we disagree, that they may come to a knowledge of the truth?
Genuine love will cause me to examine myself before criticizing a brother. This principle was taught by our Master. “And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brothers eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?” (Matt. 7:3) Perhaps there are too many mote finders in the Lord’s church!
On the other hand, a non-hypocritical love for brethren will demand that we rebuke those in sin and error (1 Tim. 5:20; 2 Tim. 2:24-26). It is not an evidence of pure, fervent love to pat a man (brother or otherwise) on the back and encourage him on his way to torment. Some brethren seem to believe that love is a synonym for compromise. This is a feigned love!
May God help us in all that we say and in all that we do to have an “unfeigned love of the brethren.” We must have such in order to please Him!