We Love Each Other

One of the most distinguishing characteristics of God’s people is the love they are to have for one another.  After Paul’s stay in Thessalonica was cut short by persecution he wrote to them, “And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you, so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints” (1 Th 3:12-13).

Paul had previously spoken of his love for the Thessalonians:  “But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children.  So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us … as you know how we exhorted, and comforted, and charged every one of you, as a father does his own children” (1 Th 2:7-8, 11).  Pretty strong words for people Paul hadn’t known very long.  How do such strong bonds grow between people who usually have a lot more differences than they have similarities?

The ultimate object of our love is outside the relationship.  That is, our primary love and devotion is to Christ.  As we honor Him and conform to His character, we are both eliminating characteristics that cause friction with each other and acquiring qualities that foster care.  “For the love of Christ constrains us, because we judge thus:  that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again” (2 Cor 5:14-15).  Two people truly devoted to Christ can’t easily detest one another.

We must love those whom Christ loves.  If we say we live for Christ, then we are bound to love those whom He loves.  How can it be otherwise?  This undergirds Paul’s warning against becoming a stumbling block to the weak:  “And because of your knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?  But when you thus sin against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ” (1 Cor 8:11-12).  Shall I cause the spiritual death of the one Christ died to save?

In the present crisis we have a wonderful opportunity to show our love for Christ and those others whom He loves.  Satan hopes we will turn on each other, but we will not hand him such a cheap victory.