Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart. (1 Peter 1:22 NIV)
In this verse, Peter calls on us to love one another deeply, from the heart. But how can we do that? Especially those people who get on our nerves or have hurt us.
It starts with purification. Under the Old Testament law, if you became unclean, you needed to be purified. This was a ceremonial cleansing done by a priest with some specially prepared water. But the purification Peter talks about here is not an outward ceremonial cleansing. It involves turning from the evil desires we had before we came to know Christ and living lives of holiness (1 Pet. 1:14-16).
This purification comes about when we live in obedience to the truth—obeying the instructions God has given us in his word and following the leading of the Holy Spirit within us.
And when we do that, the result is a sincere love for each other. The word used for love here is the Greek word “philadelphia,” which means brotherly love. This love is the natural result of the purification that comes from obeying the truth. If we lack this love for our brothers and sisters in Christ, it is because we have failed to obey the truth of God.
Peter assumed that those he wrote to had brotherly love amongst themselves. And he then challenged them to go beyond brotherly love and to love one another deeply, from the heart.
This second use of love uses a different Greek word, “agapaō.” Agape love is the love that God has for us. It goes beyond emotional brotherly love. It is an active love. Doing good on behalf of another. It is love that comes from the heart.
In Peter’s world, the heart represented the center of who a person was, including both emotion and mind. To love deeply from the heart was a conscious act. To choose to love others. His challenge to us is to go beyond an emotional attachment to each other and to actively and sacrificially demonstrate love to each other in all we do.