August 1, 2010
Building Strong Friendships in Christ
Excel Still More in Love Today
“for indeed you do practice it toward the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, to excel still more,”
1 Thessalonians 4:10
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Some of my friends attend church regularly, but have never been forgiven of their sins. Recently, I spoke with a man who attends a local church, with a seminary preacher. I asked him a simple question: “If you were to die tonight, and stand before Jesus, and Jesus asked you, ‘Why should I let you into My heaven, what would you say?'” He responded that he tried to live by the golden rule. I read to him certain passages in the Bible that explained that we are all sinners, and the wages of sin is death. Therefore, being good and doing good will never deliver us from the death penalty of sin. I read him other verses that explain that Jesus died, and took our sins upon Himself when He died upon the cross. He paid the death penalty for my sins. By faith, I believe that Jesus died in my place for my sins, and by His death and resurrection I go free. By His wounds, I now am healed. You see, I had been praying how to reach this very man with the message of the Gospel, because I love him and the other people I meet at the beach. Like we read about yesterday, I need to learn one person at a time how to love each person with God’s love. The Thessalonians were known for loving people with God’s love, and Paul encouraged them to love still more.
In 1 Thessalonians 4:10, Paul emphasized that the Thessalonians had been taught to love by God, and the testimony of their love to all the people in their area was well known among the other churches. You see, they just loved to love people around them. Notice that Paul not only praised them for their love and testimony of love, but he also told them to love even more. Do you have anyone in your life that encourages you to love still more? Do you praise your friends for their love of people? Do you encourage your friends to develop a reputation for loving people that glorifies God? You see, Paul wanted everyone to know the testimony of love coming from the Thessalonian church. This group of believers had been persecuted for their faith, and yet they had learned directly from God how to love people.
People watch not only what believers say, but also what you practice. The original text here indicates that the Thessalonians were continually practicing their love, and people noticed their continuous behavior. They not only talked about love, they showed their love for people. Paul knows that you cannot love people too much. You also cannot exhaust God’s supply of love for people on this earth.
So, we learn some more about building strong friendships in Christ.
● Strong bonds of friendship form when we practice love towards people all around us.
● Strong bonds of friendship grow when praise our friends for their love in Christ, and encourage them to love all the more.
● We harm our bonds of friendship when we fail to love people, or fail to encourage people to excel still more in love.
Application for Today
Today, I want to love people more and more. I also want to encourage my Christian friends to excel still more in their love for people. Will you encourage your friends to love people more and more today?