August 22, 2010
Building Strong Friendships in Christ
Love and Peace Today
“and that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Live in peace with one another.”
1 Thessalonians 5:13
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In America, people esteem sports heroes, music stars, television personalities, radio talk show hosts, and many other types of people. They often show their pleasure by buying products those stars endorse. People often look up to other people, with esteem in their eyes.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:13, Paul continues his thoughts of appreciation for the local servants of Christ, the elders of the church. Speaking under the spiritual influence of God, Paul commands us to esteem (“ὑπερεκπερισσοῦ“) them. This term for esteem means the highest form of comparison: surpassingly, extremely, immeasurably more (Ephesians 3:20). In this case, when you think about loving people in the local assembly, you must love your elders extremely and surpassingly.
The disciples of Jesus spent time arguing among themselves who was the greatest disciple. In Luke 9:46-48, Jesus, knowing what they were each thinking about his own greatness, placed a child before them. He then told them that “Whoever receives this child in My name receives Me, and whoever receives Me receives Him who sent Me; for the one who is the least among all of you, this is the one who is great.” Notice that Jesus emphasized being least to being great, and receiving children in His name. We love elders not for their office, but because we recognize true elders who do the works of Christ. Because of their work, we love them extremely.
Paul also links this idea of extreme love with peace (“εἰρηνεύετε“). This word derives from the common root word for peace in the New Testament, and the links back to the Hebrew idea of peace (“shalom”) in the Old Testament. As we live together in love in the local assembly, we must also take steps to live in peace with one another. In 2 Corinthians 13:11, Paul wrote: “Finally, brethren, rejoice, be made complete, be comforted, be like-minded, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.” For some believers, it is time for you to make peace with other believers today.
So, we learn some more about building strong friendships in Christ.
● Strong bonds of friendship form when we esteem our elders highly in love and live in peace with one another.
● Strong bonds of friendship grow when we stop hating elders, but start loving them. Jesus commands us to live in peace with each other, and His love and peace will prevail.
● We harm our bonds of friendship when we no longer love elders who work for Christ, and when we no longer make it a point to live in peace with fellow believers in the local assembly.
Application for Today
Today, I will esteem elders who work for Christ diligently in the local assembly. I will live in peace with my fellow believers. Who will you let know today that you love them with the surpassingly perfect love of Christ for their good work?