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Exhortation to Love
1 Thess. 4:9-10


After exhorting the Thessalonian believers to live a holy life and avoid fornication, the Apostle Paul now shifts his message to another very important topic. Its about love. Paul tells them to love one another. Today we talk about love.

Illustration 1: Farewell To Faith, Hope, Except Love
As an aged Christian lay dying in Edinburgh, a friend called to say farewell. “I have just had three other visitors,” said the dying man, “and with two of them I parted; but the third I shall keep with me forever.”
“Who are they?”
“The first was Faith, and I said, ‘Goodbye, Faith! I thank God for your company ever since I first trusted Christ; but now I am going where faith is lost in sight.’
“Then came Hope. ‘Farewell, Hope!’ I cried. ‘You have helped me in many an hour of battle and distress, but now I shall not need you, for I am going where hope passes into fruition.’
Last of all came Love. ‘Love,’ said I, ‘you have indeed been my friend; you have linked me with God and with my fellow men; you have comforted and gladdened all my pilgrimage. But I cannot leave you behind; you must come with me through the gates, into the city of God, for love is perfected in heaven.’ ” (1 Cor. 13).
Encyclopedia of 15,000 Illustrations: Signs of the Times.

I. Love as taught in the Bible
A. The Greek Words
1. The Greek word most frequently translated love is “agapao”, referring particularly to a giving, sacrificial love, as God’s love for man (Jn. 3:16; 1 Jn. 4:10). It “indicates a direction of the will and finding one’s joy in anything” (Zodhiates). This is the kind of love Christians are to have toward God (Mt. 22:37), toward other Christians (Jn. 13:34), and toward all men (Gal. 5:14).

2. Another common word for love is “Phileo”, referring more to an affection and friendship. It is translated “kiss” in Mt. 26:48; Mk. 14:44; and Lk. 22:47. Phileo is used to describe Jesus’ love for Lazarus (Jn. 11:3) and John (Jn. 20:2). Phileo is from the same Greek root as the word translated “friendship” (Jn. 15:13-15). Agapao and never phileo is used of love toward our enemies (Mt. 5:44). In Jn. 21:15-17 the Lord Jesus uses both agapao and phileo when He inquires about Peter’s love for Him. The first two times, He asks Peter, “lovest (agapao) thou me?” (v. 15-16), and Peter replies, “I love (phileo) thee.” The third time Christ uses phileo and Peter replies with phileo (v. 17).

3. Phileo is combined with other words to describe various kinds of love: Philadelphia refers to brotherly love (Rom. 12:10; 1 Thess. 4:9; Heb. 13:1; 1 Pet. 1:22; 3:8). Philoteknos refers to love of children (Tit. 2:4). Philandros refers to love of husband (Tit. 2:4). Philanthropia refers to love of mankind (Tit. 3:4). Philotheos refers to love of God (2 Tim. 3:4). Philagathos refers to love of good (Tit. 1:8). Philoxenos refers to love of hospitality (Tit 1:8). Philautos refers to love of self (2 Tim. 3:2). Philedonos refers to love of pleasure (2 Tim. 3:4).

4. “Eros” refers to physical love; it gives us our English word erotic. Eros love does not have to be sinful, but in Paul’s day its main emphasis was sensual. This word is never used in the New Testament.

II. Brotherly love (1 Thess. 4:9)
A. The love of the brethren is the test of our Christianity, and the symbol of our Christian profession. It is even the representation of the “the new man,” and is taught to us by God. Without love, all religious profession is just an empty show, a noisy cymbal.

B. The Thessalonian believers were taught of God to love one another. The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. (Rom. 5:5). You will notice that it is not our love, but the love of God that is shed abroad in our hearts. When the Holy Spirit has control of our lives, He reproduces God’s love in us. Who better to teaches us the lessons of love? The greatest demonstration of love this world has ever known is the cross of Calvary. The evidence of God’s unwavering love is the sacrifice of His Son for the sin of a lost world. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Rom. 5:8). On Calvary, Christ’s death demonstrated God’s unconditional love for us. Calvary’s cross is the undeniable proof of God’s love. We are incapable of loving as we ought to. Therefore, God gives us the ability and teaches us to love others the way He does. We are taught of God.

C. Description of Brotherly love
1. Impartial – Deut. 10:19 Love ye therefore the stranger: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.
2. Unselfish – Mt. 22:39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
3. Proof of Discipleship – Jn. 13:35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
4. Christ’s Love the Standard of – Jn. 15:12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.
5. Sincere –
Rom. 12:9 Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.
Rom. 13:9 For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
6. Abounding –
1 Thess. 3:12 An d the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you:
Heb. 13:1 Let brotherly love continue.
Jas. 2:8 If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well:
7. Fervent –
1 Pet. 1:22 Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:
1 Jn. 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.

Illustration 2: Real Love Forgets Self
William Gladstone, in announcing the death of Princess Alice to the House of Commons, told a touching story. The little daughter of the Princess was seriously ill with diphtheria. The doctors told the princess not to kiss her little daughter and endanger her life by breathing the child’s breath. Once when the child was struggling to breathe, the mother, forgetting herself entirely, took the little one into her arms to keep her from choking to death. Rasping and struggling for her life, the child said, “Momma, kiss me!” Without thinking of herself the mother tenderly kissed her daughter. She got diphtheria and some days thereafter she went to be forever with the Lord.
Real love forgets self. Real love knows no danger. Real love doesn’t count the cost. The Bible says, “Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it.”

III. Love more and more (1 Thess. 4:10)
There is always room for improvement. The word increase carries the idea of “super abounding and overflowing.” The thought is that of allowing our love to overflow beyond the faults and failures of others and of continuing to love them. Once again, God is our example of this abounding love and grace. Paul said… where sin abounded, grace did much more abound. (Rom. 5:20). The word abound carries the idea of super abounding, and means to surpass by far, exceed immeasurably, or overflow beyond. Peter had the same idea in mind when he said, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently. (1 Peter 1:22) The Thessalonians were doing well concerning the matter of brotherly love, but there was room for improvement. May we also increase more and more in our love for the brethren. But it is not enough that we love only those in our own fellowship; like these people in Thessalonica, we must love all of God’s people and also the lost, more every day.

Illustration 3: Grace of Giving
In The Grace of Giving, Stephen Olford tells of a Baptist pastor during the American Revolution, Peter Miller, who lived in Ephrata, Pennsylvania, and enjoyed the friendship of George Washington. In Ephrata also lived Michael Wittman, an evil-minded sort who did all he could to oppose and humiliate the pastor. One day Michael Wittman was arrested for treason and sentenced to die. Peter Miller traveled seventy miles on foot to Philadelphia to plead for the life of the traitor.
“No, Peter,” General Washington said. “I cannot grant you the life of your friend.”
“My friend!” exclaimed the old preacher. “He’s the bitterest enemy I have.”
“What?” cried Washington. “You’ve walked seventy miles to save the life of an enemy? That puts the matter in different light. I’ll grant your pardon.” And he did.
Peter Miller took Michael Wittman back home to Ephrata—no longer an enemy but a friend.
The Grace of Giving, Stephen Olford

IV. Conclusion:
The love for our brothers and sisters in Christ is the test of our being a Christian. When the Holy Spirit has control of our lives, He reproduces God’s love in us. However, we must not love our fellow Christians only. We must love the lost also.

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