Love leads: Devotional Commentary for August 29-September 4
This is the Word of God. May the Spirit of Truth give us wisdom and insight to receive what has been conveyed through His Word by His Inspiration.
12But we request of you, brethren, that you appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction,
13and that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Live in peace with one another.
Be sober, alert, encouraging, and supportive. These were the Spirit-inspired words issued by Paul to instruct the saints in Thessalonica and all believers in the matter of living for Christ and serving God in a drastically different way. But these exhortations were not just about changing one's mannerism or demeanor. It is more about becoming new in Christ in conduct, way of life, and relationships.
So Paul instructs us to recognize our spiritual leaders and appreciate them and their services as God's appointed stewards over God's flock. This is important not only as common courtesy, but also as a matter of godly virtue. Our leaders and teachers are set apart by God for this task in the face of difficulties and hostile circumstances. Charged with the commission of guiding, directing, and nourishing the Lord's flock in the instruction of God’s Word, they are tasked with an awesome responsibility.
Taking his cue from the Lord's Words, Paul tells us to love our spiritual leaders and teachers, and be at peace with them. In other words, we are instructed to let the love of God flow in us toward His servants who are commissioned to provide spiritual care for us. So we recognize them, appreciate them, love them, and be at peace with them for who they are in Christ and for the work that they do among us as His Ambassadors. We love them even as God loved us in Jesus Christ.
5:14 We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone.
While the community of the faithful is always exhorted to live by these God-given precepts, it is obvious that some of us still need special attention, support, and encouragement in our Christian walk. Paul strongly feels that this could be accomplished as mature believers take up the care of the weaker and more needy among us and respond to each situation as service to the Lord.
Some believers do not live in a manner that is becoming of Christian behavior. In such cases, further instruction in God’s Word would be desperately needed, so that the thoughts and actions of troubled Christians are aligned with the precepts outlined in the Scriptures. Some are just unruly while others are discouraged by the tough circumstances of life.
Whatever the source of contention, more mature believers could offer an invaluable service by personally encouraging the troubled, by showing them how to live in God's dependable providence, and by assuring them that His promises are always reliable. Like every other believer, they too are brought into God’s Kingdom through Jesus Christ. Unruly, discouraged, or immature, every child of God must be assured of the security in Christ regardless of circumstances. Therefore, Paul instructs the more mature believers to offer instruction, correction, and encouragement to the troubled among us with godly patience.
5:15 See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people.
Taking his cue from the Words of Jesus, Paul instructs the Thessalonian believers and all of God's redeemed children to help the needy and the weak among us in the framework of Christ’s patience and His redeeming love. Sometimes supporting and helping others in the Christian community can produce unexpected results. Instead of thanksgiving and appreciation, unruly, discouraged, or weak believers might reject the kindness and help offered to them. Though the believer offering the assistance could respond in like manner, Paul urges stronger and more mature believers to stand firm in Christ's Peace with quiet confidence and never respond in ungodly ways. No one should ever pay back one wrong with another. That is, no getting even, even when it seems it is deserved.
In addition, Paul advises all believers to use every opportunity for doing whatever is godly and possible for the good of every other believer in our congregations. As believers, we are always called to be continually motivated to favor the welfare of others, without any hesitation and without any concern for personal gain, or perhaps, even personal welfare. We are to be Christ’s witness to the unsaved world around us. In the end, Paul encourages believers to treat everyone, even unbelievers, with the love of Christ because the life that we now live in the flesh is not us. It is Jesus Christ Who lives His Life in us.
When the lawyer asked Jesus about God's Law, the Lord gave him a simple answer. He told him to love God, and, to love his neighbor as himself. These profound words of Jesus do not merely suggest that the lawyer should be nice, tolerant, good-natured, likeable, or amicable. Even though these traits might make one more personable, Jesus essentially told the lawyer that heaven would be a distant dream if he does not have a redemptive relationship with God. Jesus exhorted the lawyer to understand and appreciate God's love toward him and apply the same toward his neighbor.
Paul understood that being the redeemed child of God also meant living and serving as the follower of Jesus Christ. There is a life to be lived and a manner in which such life must be lived out. A Christian is one who is redeemed unto God by God with the precious blood of the Lamb of God. That means there is an invaluable and an inviolable relationship between the Redeemer and the redeemed; God and the sinner saved by Grace.
That relationship is bound by a powerful sacred sentiment called Love; the Love of God which moved God to sacrifice His Son to satisfy His Law and provide the way to salvation. The Love of God is the fulfillment of God's Law in its entirety. Therefore, a life which does not reflect God's Love distorts the affirmation and the witness of God's redemption in one's life.
That is why Paul urged the Thessalonians and all believers to excel beyond sobriety and vigilance and share the Love of God with one another. He exhorts us to recognize, love, and appreciate our spiritual leaders and those who labor in ministry among us. He counsels us to be at peace with everyone.
A congregation which loves and appreciates its spiritual leaders and teachers is a listening and a willing church. A listening and a willing church is a loving and a peaceable assembly of believers. A loving and a peaceable congregation does not engage in returning evil for evil, affirming that to be loved by God is to love Him back and extend the same to our neighbors. The Love of God is the strength of a sober and alert Christian. Jesus said to love one another so that the world might know that the God Who loved us is indeed our Father and our Lord; so that the world might know that we are indeed the followers of Christ and the witnesses of the Good News.
Love Leads is a must read by Dr. Steve Greene on what love is and what love does. It gives practical insights into the essence of loving one's neighbor through leadership principles, relationships, and Christian living. Love Leads teaches us how to be selfless. Love Leads confirms to us that Biblical precepts have practical relevance.