“Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart.”
A new kind of love demands a new kind of life.
“Fervently” is the same word used of prayer in Acts 12:5. The believers prayed unceasingly for Peter. Just as they prayed unceasingly for Peter, we are to love unceasingly. Constant love is fervent. Fervent love is love that strains with intensity to love fellow Christians.
God wants us to express this love not shallowly but “deeply”–“at full stretch” or “in an all-out manner, with an intense strain.” Earnestly comes from two words: 1) out and 2) to stretch. We get our English word “tension” from the Greek word for stretch. This pregnant word denotes stretching out or straining toward an end.
The idea expressed is not a relaxing effort. It means to be eager to persevere in some state or activity continually. It pertains to an unceasing activity, typically involving a degree of intensity and perseverance without ceasing, continuously, frequently. God wants us to persevere in love for fellow Christians.
Secular Greek used “fervently” for the rack in torture. The rack was an instrument of torture in the ancient world. They would place a body on a rack that could stretch the body until the bones would break and muscles tear. This is the kind of love God wants. He wants us to love until our spiritual muscles tear and bones break. This love is long-suffering and sacrificial.
The word “fervently” is disturbing. We meet it again in 4:8, “And above all things have fervent love for one another, for ‘love will cover a multitude of sins.’” God wants us to love in an active, aggressive way. He does not want a passive, indifferent love. He wants a bold love.
“One another” is another of the same kind. God wants us to direct fervent love toward fellow Christians.
Real love takes effort and constancy.
The Asian Christians already had brotherly love for one another. They had affection for one another, but they were not sacrificing themselves for each other. They were not on the rack. Their love did not stretch until it tore. This love is far more than fondness. Fondness can degenerate into attachment for another that can be selfish.
Do you go out of your way for fellow Christians? Will you sacrifice yourself or time for Christians? Most Christians do not love each other with boiling love. We fail to defend each other. If someone throws false accusations against a brother, will you stick up for him or passively let him take it?
Children in the same family may fight with each other. However, if one of them is under attack, they will form a bond and stick up for each other. When there is a showdown with the neighborhood kids, they will be there for each other. That is what God expects of fellow Christians.
True love for fellow Christian is no emotional surge. It is no part-time emotion. Unlock the floodgates of love. If we can relax in God’s love, we can rest in love toward others. Do you resent someone? Can you love with no strings attached?
God wants us to love to the extent that we sacrifice ourselves for others. How far should a person go in attempting to win someone else to Christ? A Christian may claim that “I have my self-respect. I have tried to share Christ with this person, and all they do is scorn my message.”
The second word for love (sacrificial love) answers this question. God wants us to love to the extent of sacrificing ourselves.
“In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:10-11).