1 Thessalonians 4:9-11
But as touching brotherly love you need not that I write to you: for you yourselves are taught of God to love one another.…
I. THE LESSON "brotherly love." This operates in a way of —
1. Esteem and affection. God esteems the saints highly, as "fine gold," His "portion," "inheritance," "jewels," "very precious and honourable." And so those who are born from above, as they love Him who begat, so they love the begotten.
2. Intercourse. If they are to be our associates in heaven we ought to know them on earth. Man was made for society, and grace sanctifies social dispositions. Thus as soon as Peter and John were let go, they went to their own company. "They that feared the Lord spake often one to another." When several Christians meet, they are like so many drops of water on the table: where they touch they run into one. This adjusts to some extent the inequalities of life, for the poor may be rich in faith, and qualified to teach the rich in goods. The intercourse of Christians encourages as Paul found at Appii forum.
3. Sympathy. "Rejoice with them that do rejoice," etc. Be like minded with Him who is touched with a feeling of our infirmities.
4. Instruction. "That it may minister grace to the hearers." So much depends on a wrong course or a wrong step in a right one.
5. Reproof. Here is the trial of brotherly love. The way in which it is generally received makes it heroic to administer it. "Thou shalt not hate thy brother," says Moses, "but rebuke him." "Faithful are the wounds of a friend." "Let the righteous...reprove me, it shall be excellent oil."
6. Succour and relief. "Whoso hath this world's goods," etc. "Let us love not in word or in tongue, but in deed, and in truth."
II. THE TEACHER — "God." He taught the Thessalonians, and He teaches us —
1. By our constitution. The senses are inlets to the mind, and so we are affected by things without — the eye, e.g., by the sight of distress. How many endeavour to elude occasions of this excitement as the priest and Levite.
2. By injunction. "The end of the commandment is charity," etc. "This is His commandment that we believe on the name of His Son, and love one another," etc.
3. By example.
(1) Of those who live in our own neighbourhood. Kind, good men are to be found everywhere.
(2) Of those who have gone before us. Apostles, martyrs, etc.
(3) Of angels who are ministering spirits, etc.
(4) Above all, of Christ. "If God so loved us, we ought to love one another."
4. By His Spirit. He can give not only the lesson, but the capacity.
III. THE TRACTABLENESS OF THE PUPILS. "Ye need not that I write."
1. What a satisfaction it is to a minister to be able to appeal to his people for illustrations and proofs of his teaching, and what an advantage to the people not only to hear, but to see. And so our Saviour said, "Let your light so shine," etc. Such advantage and satisfaction had St. Paul.
2. Paul did not flatter them. All he admired in them was ascribed to the grace of God. Their love was as extensive as it was real.
3. We must learn to love all real Christians notwithstanding their failings. "If a man be overtaken in a fault," etc. Nor should our love be determined by a man's religious opinions, "Whosoever doeth the will of My Father, the same is My brother," etc.
IV. THE PROFICIENCY THE APOSTLE WOULD HAVE THEM ATTAIN TO. "More and more."
1. Too much cannot be said in commendation or enforcement of it.
2. The Divine life is progressive, and admits of degrees.
3. Christians should never rest in present attainments.
Parallel VersesKJV: But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another.