Words of Faith 3-22-19
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2019
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
<>< <>< <>< <>< <>< <>< <>< <>< <><
1 Thessalonians 4
 Now about brotherly love we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other.  And in fact, you do love all the brothers throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers, to do so more and more.
Paul had exhorted the believers to continue to live a life that is pleasing to God. This was something that could continue to grow in "more and more". His second directive concerned moral purity that was radically different from the culture that surrounded them. The third principal exhortation of Paul involved love within the Christian fellowship.
"Brotherly love" (philadelphia) was something that had already been very evident among the Thessalonians. The word speaks to the love felt within the family and was applied to the Body of Christ here.
In a sense, Paul did not need to mention this because the Thessalonians had already learned it. It was God Himself who had taught these believers how to love one another. This love of God expressed toward one another is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. God shows us how to love through situations and the interaction of His Spirit. God surely uses other Christian examples in that teaching process, but it is something that He works on carefully within us.
The virtue of loving one another is critical for many reasons. This was the command of Christ, "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this, all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another" (John 13:34-35). The primary core of our witness to the world is in the way that we love one another. If the world looks in on the church and sees division, backbiting, and mean-spirited attacks, why would they ever conclude that there are power and life to seek in the Gospel?
It is also interesting that the concern of brotherly love follows the exhortation regarding sexual immorality. The love of fellow Christians in the Body of Christ is the positive virtue that helps to keep us from falling into the previous concern of sexual immorality. Sexual immorality is not only unholy and dishonoring to God, but it is also behavior that "wrongs his brother or take advantage of him" (4:6). The so-called "free love" of the world is anything but an expression of love. It is rooted in destructive selfishness.
Paul called on the Thessalonians to grow in the virtue of loving fellow believers more and more. One can never really attain completeness in this area of loving others. One can never entirely exhaust this realm of Christian living. There are always new believers to love and care for. There are still new hurts and concerns and needs to care for. There are always new mission areas in need of encouragement.
The Thessalonians had learned about loving the larger body of Christ throughout the whole region of Macedonia. They had been selfless and generous toward their Christian brothers and sisters in Philippi, Berea, and other towns where Christians lived. Paul commended believers for their love when he wrote the churches (2 Cor. 8:1-5).
So how is your brotherly love? We are called to love God. We are also invited to love our neighbors as ourselves. Are you loving those that God is bringing to faith? Is your love for fellow Christians around the world growing more and more? Are there people in the Body of Christ that you do not love or maybe just don't like? Could this be a relationship which God is using to teach you more about brotherly love? Are you growing in relationships with new believers and discovering ways to support believers beyond your area, or have you started keeping to the same Christian people? There is nothing wrong with learning to love the same community over the years, but God calls us beyond Christian clicks to "love all the brothers throughout Macedonia."
Father God, open my eyes to the people You are wanting to love through me. Open my heart to those who are not easy to love. Open my mind to groups and people beyond the boundaries of church and nation. Teach me brotherly love for the Body of Christ everywhere. In Jesus' name.