Paul’s letter to the Church in Thessalonica encouraged them to love each other by following the example of Jesus. For the past year we have been part of a brand new Church plant…bringing people together from several Churches to form a new one. And today was our second service, with many new faces among us. So as I look at this verse, I’m reminded that for the past six months we’ve bonded together as a small group, but now the time has come that we must turn ourselves from our tight circle to welcome those coming in through the doors. For the agape love of Jesus can only be demonstrated by His Believers when we love others. And we can only be His hands and feet when our caring shows.
Maybe you were the child that all your parents had to do was look at you sternly and you stopped misbehaving. Or maybe it took much more effort from your parents before it finally sunk in that what you were doing was wrong. Parents correct their children out of the love they have for them, not because they want to be mean, but because they want only the best for them. Our Heavenly Father does the same for us. Deuteronomy 8:5 says, “Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the Lord your God disciplines you.” When we can view difficulties in our life as loving correction from God rather than just punishment…our entire spiritual perspective and faith will be impacted and increased.
It’s difficult to grasp…but God loved us first. He loved us when we were unlovable, unrepentant, and rebellious. He loved us first by sending His one and only Son, Jesus, to die in our place for our sins. I know many of you can recite John 3:16 from memory, ” For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”…but in I John 3:16 it says, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us.” God loved us first. He saw through the messiness of our lives to what we could be in Him. He loved us first, regardless and despite of our shortcomings…for like the proverbial caterpillar changing into a beautiful butterfly, He knew what we could become in Him.