Wednesday, 26 July 2017
And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you, 1 Thessalonians 3:12
There is an emphasis in the Greek of this verse which is lacking in this translation. The word “You” begins the sentence. It reads, “You moreover, the Lord may make to increase and to abound…” In the previous verse, Paul spoke of himself and his companions – “Now may our God and Father Himself, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way to you.” This verse then contrasts that thought with the emphasis on “You.” What can be inferred is the thought, “Whether we come or not, this is for you to do.” From there he explains what that thing is. They are to “increase and abound in love toward one another.”
This petition is made to “the Lord” by Paul. In the previous verse, it was seen that he addressed God and the Lord Jesus Christ together, using a singular verb. For this reason, it is probable that “the Lord” in this verse is speaking of both again. Thus, the term Lord indicates “God” and not just one member of the Godhead. Although that may not have been what was on Paul’s mind, it does fit properly.
After petitioning love between the brethren, he then adds in, “and to all.” This could mean everyone in a general sense, or it could be referring to all believers, not just those in the church at Thessalonica. The latter is probably the case. Paul has harsh words for many outside of the scope of believers, as did the Lord Himself. However, the bond of love should not be ignored among believers, even if they are of a different church, culture, or creed.
To show what he means, he concludes with the words, “just as we do to you.” The love of Paul and his associates towards the church in Thessalonica was perfectly evident in how they ministered (and continued to minister) to them. Despite being apart from them physically, the love between them grew steadily. Paul’s desire was that this same type of increasing love would characterize them as well. The fellowship of believers should be built up, not torn down.
Life application: It is true that in a general sense, we should have a sense of love for all people. If they are unsaved, we should want their salvation. However, Paul places a stress on the love between believers that should exist. It is something that we should strive for, even when they are really irritating know-it-all’s or contrarians in ways that cause our skin to grate. A little lost skin is not worth dividing the fellowship.
Lord God, it sure can be hard to love other believers. The world abounds with backbiting and strife, and often the greatest display of it comes from people who profess faith in You. Help us, O God, to attempt to maintain a civil attitude towards all, and especially our fellows in the faith, even if they rub us like sandpaper. Maybe we just need an imperfection smoothed out anyway. Help us in this, O God. Amen.