Have Loved, Do Love and Must Love
Love is not a feeling but a deep desire which leads to selfless activity. Love urges people to give what they have, their time and energy, to bring pleasure to a loved one. That is true between individuals, within families and also in the family of faith. Paul started this letter commending the church for their reputation of turning away from idols to serve the living God (1 Thessalonians 1:9). Now he says that they also have a reputation for selfless, sacrificial giving to each other.
The believers had the Word, the instructions from the apostles and the Holy Spirit to teach them what pleased the Father. Love is the evidence that God is at work within us, that we belong to Him and to our brothers and sisters. In a human family, nothing pleases parents more than their children loving and serving each other. In the same way, in God's family, He is pleased when His children build each other up in love (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
That love for others in Christ's church is an ongoing desire and activity. The Thessalonians had a reputation for loving each other, and that spread to other churches in the region. It may have been seen in hospitality, giving money or in joining together to give to the church in Jerusalem (2 Corinthians 8:1-5). Their generous start had continued; loving one another practically was important to them. However they needed to persist and keep on loving because real love endures (1 Corinthians 13:7).
However far we have come in Christ's school of serving, there is more to learn and put into practice. It is easy to start loving but when the sacrifice bites hard into our comfort, or when people do not appreciate what we have done for them, it is easy to give up. Hebrews 6:10-12 says, "God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised." So keep going! Keep serving! Keep loving!
© Dr Paul Adams