1 Thessalonians 3:8
For now we live, if you stand fast in the Lord.
I. A PICTURE OF CHRISTIAN LOVE. St. Paul is intensely devoted to his converts. Their prosperity is his life, their unfaithfulness his death. Love of the brethren is a conspicuous feature in the early Christian character - more conspicuous than, alas! it is in the modern Church. An apostle felt more than a brotherly love for the Churches he had planted. His affection was that of a father for his children.
1. Christianity promotes care for others. It is directly opposed to a self-seeking exclusiveness as much in spiritual as in worldly affairs. As it bids a man not simply care for the enriching of himself with material wealth, so it equally forbids him to seek only for the saving of his own soul. The Church of Christ is always required to have in view the object which Ignatius Loyola propounded as the great end of the society of the Jesuits when he wrote, "The end of this society is not only, with the grace of God, to devote ourselves to the salvation and perfection of our own souls, but also, with the same Divine grace, to labor most earnestly for the salvation and perfection of our neighbor."
2. Christianity binds Christians together in close bonds of affection. This is its aim, and this is what it does when unhindered by culpable selfishness and coldness. The gospel introduces a new experience into the world. Christian love is quite unlike pagan friendship, being
(2) deeper, founded on spiritual union; and
II. AN INDUCEMENT TO CHRISTIAN FIDELITY.
1. The inducement is first direct and personal. St. Paul urges the Thessalonians to be steadfast because he feels his own life to be wrapped up in their fidelity. For his sake, if not for their own, he desires them to resist the temptations that are trying them. No doubt so devoted and affectionate a man as St. Paul would be able to bring great weight of persuasion to bear on his converts by this appeal to their consideration for their spiritual father. A similar influence may be helpful now. If we know one who has labored, prayed, and watched for our soul, surely the desire not to grieve him at the last by proving all his toil to have been in vain should be a motive for profiting by it. The scholar should feel thus towards his teacher, the child towards his Christian mother; above all, every one of us towards Christ, that his work may not be in vain - that, after all he has suffered for us, he should not be made to suffer by us.
2. Further, the inducement is general and inferential. If the steadfastness of the Thessalonians was a matter of such profound concern to St. Paul, it must have been of great importance in itself. Here is a strong reason for not thinking lightly of Christian fidelity. An apostle feels that he lives in the faithfulness of his converts. How supremely necessary must that faithfulness be for them! how supremely necessary must it ever be for the Church!
III. AN EXAMPLE FOR CHRISTIAN WORK. The Church at Thessalonica was faithful. St. Paul was not disappointed in his friends. The secret of this steadfastness may be seen in the spirit of the apostle. He was no perfunctory preacher. Not only was his heart in his work; his heart was with the people to whom he ministered. Their faithfulness and failure were questions of life and death to him. The servant of Christ has here an example of supreme interest. Learning, eloquence, holiness, zeal, all fail without love. The preacher who identifies himself with his people is the most successful in winning them for Christ. - W.F.A.
Parallel VersesKJV: For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord.