“Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.”

// Romans 12:10

To love one another with brotherly – tender, heartfelt, fervent – affection is different than simply doing nice things for one another, speaking kind words, or even praying for each other. God is calling us to do something with our hearts. He is calling us to do something with our emotions, our feelings.

But of course, love is much more than a feeling. Even when we don’t feel like loving someone, we are called to love them regardless – and we need to ask and draw on the Holy Spirit’s empowerment to love in line with the Father’s heart. Yet, even then, this scripture is calling us to a deeper dynamic of love.

“Be devoted to one another in brotherly affection.” These words are not throw away words. ‘Be’ is used actively here; as in, be this kind of person. Not just in doing or saying, but in feeling. It is to be the identifier of our behavior.

We humans can fake a lot. But living with genuine, tender affection toward one another is a witness to our spirit, and to the world, that God is real – a witness that He is a good, loving, relentlessly kind Father, one who feels for His children.

If we truly believe this, our hearts will bear witness to this truth in our affections. For God desires us to feel toward one another strong, heartfelt, deep, emotionally-charged affection – affection which He Himself designed in His relationship with us. There is something uniquely stirred in the heart of God when His children love with this same spirit of affection.

But if we cannot feel, let us pray earnestly for hearts of flesh, hearts sensitive and responsive to the touch of God. We need only ask the Holy Spirit, for He can conceive affections where there has been only barrenness. Let us not close our hearts to one another because of past hurts or disappointments. Let us be a free-hearted, wide-hearted people – first towards our loving Father and then towards our brothers and sisters. Let us love fervently and from the heart. For to live in the fullness of the Father’s love is to love lavishly and securely.

Let us feel again, dear hearts.

// Grace Johnston