Written by Lynn Yost
“For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
– 2 Peter 1:5-8
Our Scripture focus in 2 Peter calls believers and followers of Christ to “participate in the divine nature” by using and growing the gifts He has given us through the Holy Spirit. Not only do these gifts set us apart from worldly behavior and allow us to glorify Him as we stand on His promises, they also build on each other and work together to identify us as a people who are in Christ. One of the building blocks that “keeps us from being ineffective and unproductive” is mutual affection. Mutual affection, in the context of Christianity, is a feeling of positive strong emotion between two people that results in a common interest in the well-being of the other. Mutual affection comes as a result of knowing and caring for each other in a way that leads to selflessness.
One of the first biblical examples of mutual affection that comes to mind is the story of Ruth and Naomi, who were living in Moab after the death of Naomi’s husband and sons, one of them Ruth’s husband. The women set out to return to Naomi’s home of Bethlehem. Even when Naomi urged her daughters-in-law to return to their families in Moab, Ruth clung to Naomi and said, “Where you go, I will go, and where you stay I will stay. For your people will be my people, and your God my God.” The mutual affection the two women showed for each other served to give each of them strength to endure sorrow and insecurity. Because of the trust and affection that grew through their experiences, they eventually received healing as they returned to Bethlehem. Ruth didn’t even know God yet, but the Holy Spirit gave the gift of mutual affection to her and Naomi, leading them to Bethlehem, where Ruth eventually married Boaz.
Ruth’s great-grandson, David, and King Saul’s son, Jonathan, had a deep friendship built on mutual affection, which became a covenantal relationship. 1 Samuel 18:1 says, “they became one in spirit”, and their mutual affection grew stronger as they depended on and trusted each other until Jonathan’s death. 1 Samuel 20:42 is a testimony to the increasing measure of their mutual affection, as Jonathan says to David, “…we have sworn friendship with each other in the name of the Lord,” and “The Lord is witness between you and me, and between your descendants and my descendants forever.” In honor of Jonathan after his death, David took care of Jonathan’s son Mephibosheth, who was lame in both feet, demonstrating a friendship that promised to carry on through generations long past their time.
Ruth and David are both named in Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus.
Joseph and Mary exemplify a marriage with God as the head. Not only did each alone have incredible faith in God, but they shared their faith and trusted Him together, even when the things each had heard from God didn’t make sense. Imagine the mutual affection they shared as they lived in the marriage covenant they made with God, with Joseph caring for Mary as she gave birth to Jesus, and as they parented Jesus, the Son of God. Nothing but a supernatural gifting of the Holy Spirit could have woven these two people together as they selflessly looked out for the well-being of one another and raised a family unified by the same mutual affection.
Mutual affection is a gift of the Holy Spirit, and as believers we are required to use it to glorify God in all of our relationships, through good times and difficult times.
- Do you see that mutual affection goes beyond what we feel, and that it leads to the action of selflessness/unselfishness?
- Make a list of people you have mutual affection for.
- How do you know?
- How do they know?
- How are you demonstrating mutual affection in your relationships?
- What are some ways you can grow this gift?
- How important do you think it is to be an example of mutual affection?
- Do you believe it is a legacy you will pass down through generations to come