Monday, December 15, 2008

1 Thessalonians 4:9-12 (More Love)

“We give thanks to God always for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers;
constantly bearing in mind your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ…” –1 Thessalonians 1:2,3a


Paul tended to stress three areas of discipleship in his churches. The first area involved the believer’s walk or behavior and was related to the faith the believer professed. Faith changes us and makes us new creatures that behave in new ways.

The second area of stress in Paul’s teaching was in the area of relationships. It is the area of Love. Love determines the way the believer behaves towards others, both within the church and in the community. It defines the way we relate to others in the roles that we perform. These teachings are usually the ones that inform parents, children, spouses and employees how to be.

Here, Paul encourages the Thessalonians to be even better than they are in this area, and he stresses that they have been doing a good job in this area. They have a great love toward all believers in the region.

He goes on to relate work to love: “make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands…” (1 Thessalonians 4:11) How does work have anything to do with love? Not that it is a bad thing to teach Christians to work hard and not be dependant on others. (This is an area where a lot of churches fall flat. We reach out to the needy in the community, but create a group of people dependant on the church since we are often reluctant to demand that they help themselves.) However, what does work have to do with love?

Verse twelve supplies the answer: so that we may behave properly towards those not in the church. Other translations render this phrase “command respect.” If we hope to impact a community with the gospel, it helps when we are not dependant on that society for charity. As a group, Christians should supply the charity in society, not demand it.

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