Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another.
— Romans 12:10

When my family and I first moved to the former Soviet Union, God connected us to some of the most wonderful people we’ve ever known. Although these people were from a completely different culture and background, they genuinely became a part of our family. This was especially wonderful for our sons, who now lived so far from their own natural relatives. It was also wonderful for me, for I discovered a level of relationship I had never before known in the Christian community. Although no one could ever possibly replace our natural families, we were thankful to God for these brothers and sisters who truly became “family” to us on the other side of the world.

Unfortunately, in many parts of the Christian community, this level of relationship I am describing is sadly missing. It is unfortunate that people attend church week after week and hardly know the people they regularly sit next to in the church services. Life has become so busy with natural concerns that most believers suffer from a severe deficiency of relationships with their fellow believers. This was never God’s plan for the local church, for He designed it to be a place where people’s lives could be built together as living stones. His plan was and still is to have a people who demonstrate His covenant nature in their relationships with one another.

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bookmark2The apostle Paul talks about these types of covenant relationships in Romans 12:10 when he says, “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another.” When I read these words of Paul, I can’t help but think of the spiritual family and the genuine brothers in Christ whom I love so much in the former Soviet Union. We love them so profoundly that we have literally laid down our lives for them — and they likewise love us and have laid down their lives for us.

The phrases “be kindly affectioned” and “brotherly love” are key to understanding the level of relationship that God intends for us to have with our Christian brothers and sisters. The phrase “be kindly affectioned” is from the Greek word philostorgos, which expresses the idea of a love between friends that is authentic, sincere, tender, and warm. This word philostorgos is a compound of the words phileo and stergo. The word phileo is the Greek word for friendship, and the word stergo is the Greek word that depicts the tender love that should exist between the members of a family. But because the words phileo and stergo are joined to form the word philostorgos, it represents two or more friends who love each other just as deeply as if they were members of the same family.

If Paul had stopped here, it would have already been enough to let us know that the members of the local church should be like family to us. But to further confirm this truth, Paul tells us that we are to have “brotherly love” between ourselves. The words “brotherly love” are translated from the Greek word philadelphia, a compound of phileo, which, as noted above, means to love like a friend. The second part of the word is adelphos, the Greek word for a brother. When compounded together, it becomes the word philadelphia, which means to love dearly like a brother.

By using both of these phrases, Paul is telling us that our relationships in the Body of Christ should carry the authenticity of family. We should indeed love each other as if we were genuinely blood brothers and sisters. In fact, our love for one another should be so profound that we hold one another in honor. This is precisely what Paul says next when he tells us, “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another.”

The words “in honour” in Greek express the idea of being appraised very highly or considered as very valuable or very precious. It gives the idea of an appreciation so great that you would prefer to see the person you love succeed even more than you want to see your own success. You truly desire the very best for this person because you love him so deeply.

When the King James Version uses the word “preferring,” it is the Greek word proegeomai, which means to esteem, to admire, to highly respect, to consider, and to value very highly. It represents the attitude of a person who values a friend so highly that he deeply desires the very best to come to pass for his friend — even if it means that his friend is blessed at his own expense. This means there is no room for jealousy or competition where this kind of love abounds.

A fuller interpretive translation of Romans 12:10 could read:

“Love each other with the same love you have for your family. In fact, you should love each other with the same love that is shared between two brothers. The value you place on each other should be so high that it makes you desire to see those you love excel and achieve much in life, even if it means that they excel and achieve more than you do.”

Do you have these kinds of relationships in the Christian community? I’m talking about precious relationships that you hold to be as dear to you as family. If so, you should count yourself very blessed, for the lives of many believers are vacant of such relationships. This is all the more reason to make sure you take the time to really express to these people whom you love as family just how deeply you love them!

God planned for the local church to be a place of covenant relationship. If you have such relationships, be careful to always treat them as a special gift from Heaven. And if your life lacks this blessing, ask the Holy Spirit to birth a God-given relationship that will bring a touch of Heaven into your life.

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My Prayer for Today

Lord, I thank You for the incredible friendships You have placed in my life. I am immeasurably blessed to have such loving, faithful, and true relationships. When I think of all the people who live such lonely lives, it makes me want to stop and express my gratefulness to You for placing such precious people in my life. Lord, I also ask You to please help me see those who need to be loved so I can include them as a part of my life. I want to give to others the love and support that I have received. Holy Spirit, help me to start doing this today.

I pray this in Jesus’ name!

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My Confession for Today

I confess that God has given me a host of godly relationships. I am blessed with genuine friends who love me like family; who treat me like a brother (or sister); and who will walk in covenant with me for many years to come. This is God’s will for my life. I will not be isolated or live in a way that is disconnected from God’s family; rather, I will continually look for ways to grow closer and closer to His family. Also, just as God is blessing me with precious friends, I believe He is teaching me how to be a better friend to those who are near me.

I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!

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Questions to Answer

1. Are some of your relationships so precious that you hold them to be as dear to you as family?

2. If so, have you taken the time to really express to them how much you love them?

3. What can you do to improve your skills to become a better friend?