1 Thessalonians 3:11-13 ESV
“Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you, and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.”
What is love?
If you had to define it, how would you define love? In the English language the word can mean so many different things and it is often confused with lust and romance, which are based in the flesh and in our feelings and emotions that we are feeling at a particular moment in time. So, the love we are feeling could fluctuate depending on our emotions. And one day we could feel love for someone and then the next day not.
The word in the Greek is “agape.” It means “love which centers in moral preference.” It typically refers to “divine love which = what God prefers.” And what God prefers is what is morally pure, righteous, holy, honest, fair, kind, faithful, upright, and trustworthy. For God is love and love comes from God and God is all those things. Those who love with this love hate what is evil and they cling to what is good. Love is not dependent on our emotions.
Now, if we love God we will be obeying him. If we do not obey him, we do not love him. And if we do not love him we do not know him. And if we do not know him we do not have salvation from sin and eternal life in him. Also, if we do not know God, and God is love, we cannot know the love of God in our lives and we will not be capable of loving other people with that agape love which prefers what God prefers, either. Our love will still be fleshly.
[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 8:51; Jn 14:15-24; Jn 15:10; Matt 7:21-23; 1 Jn 2:3-6,15-17; 1 Jn 3:4-10,24; 1 Jn 5:2-3; 2 Jn 1:6; Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:16; Rom 12:9; Heb 5:9; 1 Pet 1:1-2; Jas 1:21-25; 1 Co 10:1-22; 1 Co 13; Heb 3:1-19; Heb 4:1-13; Php 2:12-13; Jn 10:27-30]
Abounding in Love
So, we need to understand here that when it instructs us to abound in love for one another and for all, this is not talking about fleshly love which prefers what self prefers. It is not based in our emotions so it is not dependent on what others do or don’t do. And it isn’t about just making others feel good about themselves and only saying and doing what will incline them towards liking us. Love does what is truly best for others.
So, one person may write or speak a very soothing message that makes you feel good about yourself and where you are, and it might lead you to be inclined toward liking that person, and even trusting that person. But the person may or may not be telling you the truth. Many liars and deceivers are very good at manipulating people’s emotions, but their messages are empty, and they do nothing to change human lives or to lead them to God.
The Scriptures teach that we who believe in Jesus are to exhort (urge, prod) one another daily so that none of us are hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We are to speak the truth in love, one to the other, so that we are not led astray by men in their deceitful scheming who are tricksters and con artists who lead us to follow after various winds of doctrine created in their own minds. And we are to do so to help one another to mature in our walks of faith in Christ Jesus, our Lord. And this is loving one another.
And we are to use the spiritual gifts we have been endowed with by God within the areas of ministry within the body of Christ to which God has called us, and in order to instruct, encourage, counsel, exhort, and warn one another to help one another to grow in our walks of faith and to help keep one another from falling back into sin. And we are to speak to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs for the spiritual growth of one another.
[Rom 12:1-8; 1 Co 12:1-31; Eph 4:1-16; Eph 5:17-27; Col 3:16; Heb 3:13]
In Holiness Before God
This is our object to love others as God loves us. And God, in his love, sent Jesus Christ, the only Begotten Son of God, to die on that cross for our sins, but not just to forgive us our sins, and not just to promise us the hope of heaven when we die, but that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness. So, if we are loving others as God is loving us, this should be our primary goal in loving them, too.
Now, this is not saying that we don’t care about people for who they are or that our only concern for them is to “get them saved.” That is not what this is saying. Surely we care about them and their lives, and so we demonstrate the love of God to them in many different ways. And we care about what is happening to them and if they are hurting or if they are in need, and we will share with those in true need and we will minister to the hurting.
But as wonderful as all of that is, if we neglect to talk with them about Jesus Christ, and to share with them the truth of the gospel that can save their souls from hell, and which can give them new lives in Christ with purpose and direction, we have failed them, and they could die and go to hell. And if we fail to minister to the body of Christ in the way the Lord instructs, there could be those who will fall away from God and who will not spend eternity in heaven because we failed to encourage them in their walks of faith.
And the point of this is not to try to heap guilt on you. The point is that God saved us for a purpose and that we need to be about doing what God has called us to do which involves impacting human lives and leading them to salvation from sin and to mature walks of faith in Jesus Christ so that they do walk in holiness and righteousness in obedience to our Lord so that their hearts are established in holiness at the coming of our Lord Jesus.
For, not everyone who says to Jesus, “Lord, Lord,” is going to enter into the kingdom of heaven but only the ones doing the will of God the Father who is in heaven. We are not saved and bound for heaven on a mere profession of faith in Jesus Christ but we have to walk the walk and not just talk it. We must walk no longer according to the flesh but according to the Spirit, for if we walk according to the flesh we will not inherit eternal life with God.
[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; Tit 2:11-14; Jas 1:21-25; Rom 12:1-2; Php 2:12-13; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-10; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-11; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; Heb 10:26-27; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Matt 7:21-23; Ac 26:18; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15; Eph 2:8-10]
I Stand in Awe
By Mark Altrogge
You are beautiful
You are beautiful beyond description
Too marvelous for words
Too wonderful for comprehension
Like nothing ever seen or heard
Who can grasp Your infinite wisdom?
Who can fathom the depth of Your love?
You are beautiful beyond description
Majesty, enthroned above
And I stand, I stand in awe of You
I stand, I stand in awe of You
Holy God, to whom all praise is due
I stand in awe of You
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