Encouraging Words to Spur on Love

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But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love another. And indeed ye do it toward all the brethren which are in all Macedonia: but we beseech you, brethren, that ye increase more and more” (KJV, 1 Thess, 4:9-10).

“But as touching brotherly love”

When Paul says, “But as…” he marks a new division in his letter. He has moved past his recent plea to a plea for love among the people. But we also see a unique type of love being spoken of. The term brotherly love is derived from the Greek word philadelphia, which speaks of kindness and a love of the brethren.

Elsewhere Paul tells us that love is patient and kind (1 Cor. 13:4). Paul’s words are fitting because true love toward the brethren is characterized by kindness.

Philadelphia is a love that flows out of a common spiritual life. Paul says, “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love…” (Rom. 12:10).

Elsewhere we read, “Let brotherly love continue” (Heb. 13:1). Finally, we are told, “Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren” (1 Pet. 1:22), and that we are to add brotherly kindness to godliness and brotherly kindness to love (2 Pet. 1:7).

Simply put, the Bible has much to say about the Christian’s love one to another. It is also interesting to note that kindness and brotherly love are so closely linked that it is translated as brotherly kindness in 2 Peter 1:7.

“ye need not that I write unto you”

What an encouragement it must have been to hear Paul’s words. It is essential to catch Paul’s ministerial style, which is presented to us in this passage. He took note of the growth of the Thessalonians. He had already told them that he had thanked God for their faith, love, and patience (1 Thess. 1:2-3).

But here we see Paul repeating himself. Encouragement is one of the most significant ways to spur someone on to grow in the Lord.

Paul tells them he does not need to write to them to ask them to love their fellow brethren because they are doing such a good job. The reception these words would have been given would be hard to overstate.

Paul, the great apostle of the Christian faith, was the one to whom God had revealed the mysteries of heaven, and Christ appeared on the road to Damascus. That Paul was writing to these “nobodies” about their remarkable work and labor of love would likely have been the encouragement of a lifetime.

“for ye yourselves are taught of God to love another”

Paul tells them why he did not need to inform them of a deficient need. Here we see Paul telling them that God taught them to love one another. Many people are taught the Word of God, but how many are taught by God Himself?

The Pharisees and scribes were taught the Word of God but did not have God as their teacher. God was not speaking to them within. He was not illuminating the Scriptures by His Holy Spirit.

To be taught of God is to have the Holy Spirit dwelling within. But this is not enough. It is to know the Spirit’s voice and leading. It is to be yielded to the Spirit and to learn to wait upon the Spirit. Too many people are on the go and have little time for God. They say they will pray as they go, but how often does it happen? God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

But who is diligently seeking? When the Christian learns to seek the Lord, he will learn that God is also ready to teach him.

“And indeed ye do it”

Yet again, we see another encouraging word from Paul. Encouragement goes a long way in the life of the believer. So often, a little encouragement is all a Christian needs to spur him onto greater heights or help him out of a mess.

When Jesus spoke to the churches in the book of Revelation, He had much to say about their efforts or lack thereof. However, one interesting point from Jesus’ words to the seven churches can be seen in Jesus’ approach to the church in Ephesus.

Jesus tells them He knows their works, toil, and patient endurance. He also tells them they have done a good job exposing false teachers. Jesus continues and tells them they are enduring and bearing up for His name’s sake. What an encouragement that must have been to hear the words of Jesus!

However, Jesus went on to say that they had abandoned the love that they had at first. In other words, they were doing many good things, but their love for Jesus had grown cold. Therefore, Jesus tells them to repent and warns them of what would happen if they did not.

But Jesus does not end His words on that note. Instead, He tells them that they hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which He (Jesus) also hates. Thus, Jesus ends on an encouraging note. The Christian would be wise to note Jesus’ and Paul’s approach to ministering to those who simply need encouragement along the way.

“toward all the brethren which are in all Macedonia”

Here Paul speaks directly about what the Thessalonians had been doing right. We saw that Jesus was not vague in His encouragement but made it clear that He had been paying attention to the church in Ephesus. It is easy to say that someone is doing a good job, but it is much harder to point out what he is doing right.

Paul tells the Thessalonians that he admires the love that they have shown toward the brethren in Macedonia. Thus, Paul was specific about his encouragement.

But let us not assume that the love that Paul had in mind was simply brotherly love. When Paul told them that God had taught them how to love, Paul used the Greek word agapao, which denotes sacrificial love. Thus, the sacrificial love of God toward man was taught by God to the believers in Thessalonica.

As a result, they excelled in brotherly love, and Paul commended their labor of love toward the Macedonians.

“but we beseech you, brethren”

Nevertheless, Paul was not entirely satisfied. This does not mean that Paul was not pleased. In the same way, God can be pleased with a Christian’s effort and growth without being satisfied. Paul tells us what would satisfy him in his own life in the book of Philippians. He tells us that he had not obtained it, nor was he perfect, but he pressed on to take hold of that for which Christ took hold of him.

In other words, Paul pressed on to perfection.

In the same way, Paul turned to the believers of Thessalonica and was pleased with their growth and labor of love, but he was not satisfied. Instead, Paul had something to say about the matter. Paul beseeched them, implored them, pleaded with them, and entreated them. The word beseech carries with it the idea of begging earnestly.

“that ye increase more and more”

But what was Paul’s earnest plea? It was that the people of Thessalonica would not become complacent or satisfied with themselves. It would not have been wrong to be encouraged in Paul’s words that they were doing well.

It would not have been wrong for them to feel good that they had been honoring the Lord, for joy and peace are gifts of God. But they should never become satisfied with themselves while on this earth.

The Christian must learn that he is to press on to perfection with Paul. This does not mean it can be obtained, but it is the goal. Paul desired that the believers in Thessalonica would increase their love more and more. The only way to advance in love more and more is to grow more acquainted with Jesus (2 Cor. 3:18).

Final Prayer

Father, I thank You for the example of Paul and his desire never to stop growing and advancing in this life. Please help me to be like him. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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