Philadelphia is known as the “City of Brotherly Love.” The motto references the Greek word phileo which means “brotherly love” or the love between friends. Christians revolutionized the way this term was used. In Paul’s day, the word was used only to reference actual family relationships. Only Christians called one another “brother” or “sister” when it wasn’t literally true.
Loving one another is an essential part of Christian discipleship and pleasing the Lord. One might say that living to please the Lord is the vertical dimension of the greatest commandment while loving one another is the horizontal dimension (see Matt. 22:37–39). In yesterday’s reading, sexual immorality was condemned as sinful in part because it involved harming a brother or sister in Christ (1 Thess. 4:6). In other words, Christian love is our best defense against the temptation to give in to lust and other selfish desires.
Paul encouraged the Thessalonians by recognizing that they’d been doing very well in the area of loving one another (vv. 9–10). In fact, they had earned a reputation throughout the region for this virtue (see 1 Thess. 1:8). Since Paul and his team had been forced to leave, the apostle concluded that the young church had been “taught by God” Himself! God would accomplish His will for the Thessalonians despite pagan hostility and persecution and despite the absence of His chosen missionaries.
So they could now rest on their laurels, right? No. As is true so often in the Christian life, the reward for faithfulness is more opportunities to be faithful. So Paul exhorted the Thessalonians to grow “more and more” in love (v. 10). We’ve already noted that sanctification is progressive—spiritual growth should be ongoing!
>> Today, identify a specific act of Christian love that you can do for a specific brother or sister in Christ. If you’re unsure, pray about who and what. Then, make plans to act on it!
Grant us more and more opportunities to be faithful, Father. Grant us ever-deepening love for you and for others, and opportunities to demonstrate our love in ways that glorify you.