ARE YOU GROWING IN THE THE MOST IMPORTANT THING?

July 05, 2024

ARE YOU GROWING IN THE THE MOST IMPORTANT THING?

 

And may the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another and for all people, just as we also do for you. (1 Thessalonians 3:12)

God has always been very clear about this: the greatest thing is LOVE. Not “phileo,” brotherly love. And not “eros,” self-seeking love, but “agape" love, which is that God-quality that always responds in self-sacrifice. It is a love only found in God and is the essence of His nature. And it is a love we can experience as Christ comes to live in us. We can learn to let His love flow through us like rivers of living water, giving life to all.

Without this, we're nothing and can accomplish nothing (1 Corinthians 13). With this, we will naturally fulfill all the law (Galatians 2:25ff). And to love God and others drives us to experience and embody the first and greatest commandments (Matthew 22:37-40).

PAUL’S PRAYER

Paul prayed this fervently and constantly for those he had led to Christ and discipled. He knew that if they did not love God and others fervently, they would quickly miss what walking with God was all about.

Look carefully at this prayer. We should pray it (fervently and constantly) for ourselves and all those we love.

"May the Lord cause" ... Paul knew this could only be accomplished with God's love in and through us and our cooperation with him.

"you to increase and abound" ... whatever your level of love, it should be continually increasing and overwhelming and abounding ("to exist in abundance"). This doesn’t mean that we have more love, for when the Holy Spirit comes to live in us, we have all the love of God. But it means we are letting the Spirit and His love have more of us … each room of our heart. That through the years the capacity for the channel of His love through us is widening and overflowing.

"in love for one another and for all people" ... we are to love other believers, but if we let Christ's love dominate us and flow through us (by living from the inside out and doing whatever the love of God within us tells us to do), we will love "all people."

Think about this: it means people like you and not like you; people you naturally love and people you do not; people who treat you with kindness and people who hurt you; those who are your friends and also your enemies; Republicans and Democrats and Independents: red, and yellow, black, and white. Broaden this with any category until you get to the place of "ALL people," and you will have it, just as Jesus did (and does). If we do not have a burden for people far from God, it's a love problem.

"just as we also do for you" ... We must model this constantly, never teaching beyond our walking, just as Paul did.

“that He may establish your hearts without blame in holiness before our God and Father” … To be holy is to be “different.” God is holy, which means there is none like Him. His holiness is all that He is, which sets Him apart.

Now, Paul is saying that if the Divine love of God is increasing and abounding in us, it will make us decidedly different from mere men. Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount that we are to love even our enemies, and this would prove that we were “Sons of your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:45). Since love is the fulfillment of the Law, if it is present and growing in us, it will make us holy like our Father.

Is there anyone you do not love? To whom are you not patient and kind, forgiving and serving? Then, ask God to do what is necessary to “cause you to increase and abound” in the love of God. For this, beyond all else, is the greatest thing.

 





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