Now about brotherly love we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. And in fact, you do love all the brothers throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers, to do so more and more.
1 Thessalonians 4:9-10
Above all else, we should be cultivating our love-walk. Without love, our faith is worthless.
In this passage, Paul talks about two different kinds of love. The first is the Greek word philadelphia, which refers to a brotherly or family type love. The other is agape; this is a choice to love someone, with or without the emotion.
I’ve heard people teach about them in the past. But it’s the relationship between the two that’s the important thing.
Paul starts by saying that he doesn’t need to talk to them about brotherly love. Of course not. That’s something that grows naturally out of a sense of family.
It’s that close feeling we get from spending time with others. The more time spent together, the closer the bond. It’s not just about family. It can be developed in the workplace, school, and most importantly, in the church.
I’ve heard people complain that they feel closer to their work friends than they do to the church. These are the people who usually arrive late and leave right after the “amen”. How could you possibly feel close without spending time with others?
Feeling close to a church family is up to you, not the church. The more time you spend, the closer you’ll feel. Yes, there’ll be some bumps and bruises along the way, but none of us are perfect. We need to be increasing our brotherly love for other believers.
The reason it’s so important is that God uses this to teach us the next level – agape-love. This is the choice to love – to treat someone as a friend – whether you feel like it or not. Love also treats them this way whether they’re present or not.
We need to understand the progression from brotherly love to agape-love. This is very important in our spiritual growth. The apostle Peter talked about this in his epistle.
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.
2 Peter 1:5-7
It’s only when we truly love others that we’ve entered the mature spiritual walk. The road to culivating this love leads us through brotherly love. The only way this is formed is by time spent with other believers.
Allow God to work out His love-plan in your life. Be a close, functioning part of a local church. In this way you’ll be able to increase more and more in your love for others.
Question: How have you learned about God’s love by being part of a church?
© Nick Zaccardi 2017