2016-09-04 - 1 Thessalonians Study
Letters to a Young Church ~ Loving Others
These believers must not only love one another, but all people. It was their love of others that demonstrated Christ's love for all.
Both Christ and Paul provided examples of love for these believers. By the way, Paul wasn't identifying the need for love, because they didn't have it - but because he wanted them to have more. He wanted God to “increase you to overflowing.”
Paul’s final concern was that they would be what God wanted them to be, that they would be prepared for the great day of Christ and His saints’ return. This is the great hope of the church, and should be our hope as well.
Our Caring: Among a number of issues in this chapter, there are two we need to focus on. The first is the struggle of the body, and the second is one of the resources available to us.
As we've seen, Paul made it clear we are to expect a struggle. He noted the Thessalonians were facing trials. We have been dealing with those kinds of issues ourselves - fighting for time, pressures from bosses - sometimes tied directly to our faith, the need to take firm stands for what we believe, even when this brings us in conflict with others, etc. In fact, as with the church at Thessalonica, because we are starting a new ministry, we too will attract the attention of Satan and will face his attempts to undermine our walks.
Contrary to the teachings of the peace and prosperity movement, the only thing we can expect as believers, is a life that includes suffering, both because that's the reality of living in a fallen world, and more so because we strive to serve Christ. While God, out of His love and grace, may bless us with comfort and times of peace, we have no right to expect these things. Instead, we have the right to expect problems, suffering, and possibly even persecution.
Paul's response confirms this. We must expect trials. His concern is that we don't allow Satan to take these difficulties, no matter how painful, and use them to cause us to stumble and become ineffective for God.
“For this reason, when I could bear it no longer, I sent to learn about your faith, for fear that somehow the tempter had tempted you and our labor would be in vain” (1 Thessalonians 3:5).
The issue for us, as believers, is to live within the reality of who we are:
“So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God” (Galatians 4:7).
We are God's children. Think about that! Our father is the creator of the universe. It is His resources that are always available to us. This is reality, therefore, as Christ said:
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
But understanding that we will face troubles, but we have the Holy Spirit as a resource, isn't the full picture. Another major resource God provides for us is each other. I want to repeat that. It is God Who provides us with each other for support. God's gift to us is “The Caring Believer,” is each other. And a caring believer is that which we are all called to be.
It is the caring for one another – the support – the weeping and the laughing along with God's provided strength, which can carry us through the times of trial.
We need to realize just how much our walk affects the walk of those around us. We are the reality of the Christian family for each other.
“If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together” (1 Corinthians 12:26)
Here we have a family that should accept us in our joy, and in our pain. What a great blessing God has given us – each other. May we in caring for each other extend that same concern to others, as well.
Final Comments: As the family as the base of society collapses - as children don't have the opportunity to see love modeled within their homes, as each individual lives in a protective shell, we can praise the Lord that He has given us the unique organism - The Body of Christ - where we can grow and mature, having the joy of loving and nurturing one another. Let us pray that we will truly be vessels of the Holy Spirit, open to this great calling, for the benefit of the fellowship and for the testimony to an hurting world.
Let us not only love and care for each other, but for the unlovable family member, for the boss who is a major pain, for the neighbor who drives us nuts. If we don't show them God's love, there may be no one who will.
“… May the Lord make us increase and abound in love for one another and for all, … so … he may establish our hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.”
All verses are from the English Standard Version (ESV) unless otherwise noted.