Love is the antidote to sin. In this regard, Paul the apostle did not merely focus on what Christians shouldn’t do; he highlighted what they should do. At the heart of the gospel is self-sacrificial love.
Read 1 Thessalonians 4:1–12. Reflect on 1 Thessalonians 4:9–11a:
“Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs” (ESV).
In this section of 1 Thessalonians, Paul turns his attention away from issues of personal purity and holiness (1 Thessalonians 4:3–8), to how Christians should treat one another. Paul has already connected personal purity to the effectiveness of a Christian (1 Thessalonians 4:7–8). He has also noted just how detrimental sexual sin against another person can be (1 Thessalonians 4:3–6).
Paul is proud that the Thessalonian Christians have not just learned to love one another well, but that they have also learned to love all Christians throughout their province. Paul doesn’t detail precisely how the Christians at Thessalonica are showing love to other Christians in Macedonia, but it likely has to do with giving of their fiscal resources. Elsewhere, Paul references the churches at Macedonia giving of fiscally to aid the impoverished Christians in Jerusalem (Romans 15:25–27).
Paul also goes one step further in his instructions, by telling the Thessalonians to not be disruptive (“to aspire to live quietly”). Paul desires that they not disrupt society further and invite further persecution on the church (Acts 17:4–10; compare 1 Thessalonians 1:6–8). In other words, they must walk away from idols (1 Thessalonians 1:9)—and that would create disruption—but should not unnecessarily incite condemnation by society.
How can you love more fully and self-sacrificially today? How can you both serve Jesus, living his vision for your life, and balance your role in society?
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