Young siblings are inclined to elbow and nudge each other and to complain about each other. If we are honest, sometimes our idea of “brotherly affection” in the church is marked more by that kind of thinking and conduct than it is by love and gratitude. When we look around at one another, instead of singing that we’re glad we’re part of the family of God,” we can often think deep down, “I’m surprised you’re part of the family of God.”
Paul calls us to a better way.
In this verse, love is described using family words. Philostorgoi, translated here as “love,” comes from the Greek word storge, which refers to the devoted love of parent for child. Philadelphia, translated here as “with brotherly affection,” is the word used for the love between siblings (as in the name of the city of Philadelphia, the “City of Brotherly Love”). Back in Romans 8, Paul has already reminded his readers that they’re together as members of one family by God’s grace (Romans 8:12-17). Now, because they have each been brought into the family on the same basis—namely, in Jesus—they have every reason to be devoted to one another.
This kind of love requires not only genuine affection but also humility. The NIV translates the second sentence in this verse as “Honor one another above yourselves.” This resembles what we see in Philippians 2, where Paul writes, “In humility count others more significant than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3). Scripture calls us to put others first. We are to learn to play second fiddle without complaining or perversely seeking to be commended for doing so. The only competitive element among a church family should be that of seeing who can raise up and do good to others the most.
Thinking of this kind of loving brotherly affection brings us back to Jesus, who loves to call us His brothers and sisters (Hebrews 2:11-15). For Jesus, “though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant” (Philippians 2:6-7). It is Jesus who shows what true brotherly affection is; it is Jesus who loves His family perfectly in this way, outdoing all others in showing honor; it is Jesus whom we are called to be like, and whom we are living like each time we choose to love with Christlike brotherly affection. Today, then, love like Him.
How is God calling me to think differently?
How is God reordering my heart’s affections — what I love?
What is God calling me to do as I go about my day today?
Jonathan Warns David
1Then David fled from Naioth in Ramah and came and said before Jonathan, “What have I done? What is my guilt? And what is my sin before your father, that he seeks my life?” 2And he said to him, “Far from it! You shall not die. Behold, my father does nothing either great or small without disclosing it to me. And why should my father hide this from me? It is not so.” 3But David vowed again, saying, “Your father knows well that I have found favor in your eyes, and he thinks, ‘Do not let Jonathan know this, lest he be grieved.’ But truly, as the Lord lives and as your soul lives, there is but a step between me and death.” 4Then Jonathan said to David, “Whatever you say, I will do for you.” 5David said to Jonathan, “Behold, tomorrow is the new moon, and I should not fail to sit at table with the king. But let me go, that I may hide myself in the field till the third day at evening. 6If your father misses me at all, then say, ‘David earnestly asked leave of me to run to Bethlehem his city, for there is a yearly sacrifice there for all the clan.’ 7If he says, ‘Good!’ it will be well with your servant, but if he is angry, then know that harm is determined by him. 8Therefore deal kindly with your servant, for you have brought your servant into a covenant of the Lord with you. But if there is guilt in me, kill me yourself, for why should you bring me to your father?” 9And Jonathan said, “Far be it from you! If I knew that it was determined by my father that harm should come to you, would I not tell you?” 10Then David said to Jonathan, “Who will tell me if your father answers you roughly?” 11And Jonathan said to David, “Come, let us go out into the field.” So they both went out into the field.
12And Jonathan said to David, “The Lord, the God of Israel, be witness!1 When I have sounded out my father, about this time tomorrow, or the third day, behold, if he is well disposed toward David, shall I not then send and disclose it to you? 13But should it please my father to do you harm, the Lord do so to Jonathan and more also if I do not disclose it to you and send you away, that you may go in safety. May the Lord be with you, as he has been with my father. 14If I am still alive, show me the steadfast love of the Lord, that I may not die; 15and do not cut off2 your steadfast love from my house forever, when the Lord cuts off every one of the enemies of David from the face of the earth.” 16And Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, “May3 the Lord take vengeance on David's enemies.” 17And Jonathan made David swear again by his love for him, for he loved him as he loved his own soul.
18Then Jonathan said to him, “Tomorrow is the new moon, and you will be missed, because your seat will be empty. 19On the third day go down quickly to the place where you hid yourself when the matter was in hand, and remain beside the stone heap.4 20And I will shoot three arrows to the side of it, as though I shot at a mark. 21And behold, I will send the boy, saying, ‘Go, find the arrows.’ If I say to the boy, ‘Look, the arrows are on this side of you, take them,’ then you are to come, for, as the Lord lives, it is safe for you and there is no danger. 22But if I say to the youth, ‘Look, the arrows are beyond you,’ then go, for the Lord has sent you away. 23And as for the matter of which you and I have spoken, behold, the Lord is between you and me forever.”
24So David hid himself in the field. And when the new moon came, the king sat down to eat food. 25The king sat on his seat, as at other times, on the seat by the wall. Jonathan sat opposite,5 and Abner sat by Saul's side, but David's place was empty.
26Yet Saul did not say anything that day, for he thought, “Something has happened to him. He is not clean; surely he is not clean.” 27But on the second day, the day after the new moon, David's place was empty. And Saul said to Jonathan his son, “Why has not the son of Jesse come to the meal, either yesterday or today?” 28Jonathan answered Saul, “David earnestly asked leave of me to go to Bethlehem. 29He said, ‘Let me go, for our clan holds a sacrifice in the city, and my brother has commanded me to be there. So now, if I have found favor in your eyes, let me get away and see my brothers.’ For this reason he has not come to the king's table.”
30Then Saul's anger was kindled against Jonathan, and he said to him, “You son of a perverse, rebellious woman, do I not know that you have chosen the son of Jesse to your own shame, and to the shame of your mother's nakedness? 31For as long as the son of Jesse lives on the earth, neither you nor your kingdom shall be established. Therefore send and bring him to me, for he shall surely die.” 32Then Jonathan answered Saul his father, “Why should he be put to death? What has he done?” 33But Saul hurled his spear at him to strike him. So Jonathan knew that his father was determined to put David to death. 34And Jonathan rose from the table in fierce anger and ate no food the second day of the month, for he was grieved for David, because his father had disgraced him.
35In the morning Jonathan went out into the field to the appointment with David, and with him a little boy. 36And he said to his boy, “Run and find the arrows that I shoot.” As the boy ran, he shot an arrow beyond him. 37And when the boy came to the place of the arrow that Jonathan had shot, Jonathan called after the boy and said, “Is not the arrow beyond you?” 38And Jonathan called after the boy, “Hurry! Be quick! Do not stay!” So Jonathan's boy gathered up the arrows and came to his master. 39But the boy knew nothing. Only Jonathan and David knew the matter. 40And Jonathan gave his weapons to his boy and said to him, “Go and carry them to the city.” 41And as soon as the boy had gone, David rose from beside the stone heap6 and fell on his face to the ground and bowed three times. And they kissed one another and wept with one another, David weeping the most. 42Then Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace, because we have sworn both of us in the name of the Lord, saying, ‘The Lord shall be between me and you, and between my offspring and your offspring, forever.’” And he rose and departed, and Jonathan went into the city.7
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