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.
The word that stands out in this Scripture to me is the word always…repeated four times in this short sentence. So, what does always really mean? Well, according to Webster, it means, at all times. Thus, this verse shows us what true unselfish love should look like. It’s the type of love that is constantly looking for the good in people…believing in and expecting for the very best. It’s a love that will bear up under a load of misery, adversity, persecution, and provocation with faith, hope, and a smile…thinking of others first. And just like the love of Christ, unselfish love never fails, and never gives up on others.
It’s all about the relationship. In any kind of relationship hopefully there’s give and take… communication and mutual respect…connection and co-operation. But our relationship with the Lord is totally unique from any we have here on earth. God’s covenant relationship with us is binding and unbreakable…bought by the blood of Jesus Christ…while we were yet sinners. And His loving kindness and mercy towards us has nothing to do with how good we are…for it is a free gift. So think about it…the relationship we have with our Lord is really rather lopsided, with Him giving so much more to us than we could ever give back. This covenant of love that flows between God and us gives us a purpose in life… and as we commit our heart, soul, and strength to Him, we are ever being changed from the inside out.
To move towards loving one another…we must move away from hate, anger, and bitterness. Here in Ephesians we are told to get rid of these negative traits and emotions. Interestingly enough, the Greek word for “get rid of” in this verse actually means to put away vices. Vices, a word you don’t hear often…a word that according to the Dictionary means habitual faults or undesirable behavior patterns. Sadly, too many children take into adulthood bad behaviors that were first modeled for them by their parents. They watch as their family inappropriately handles conflict and confrontation, and listen as others are slandered and vilified around the dining-room table. We learn what we see and hear, but that doesn’t mean we can’t put off our old fleshly nature and move away from adverse behaviors that are causing us pain and resentment.
Jesus loves you. He knew your name before the beginning of time. He saw your tiny frame being formed in your mother’s womb and loved you even more. If you had been the only person on the face of the earth…He would of still handed over His life as a sacrifice for you…that’s how precious you are to Him. I know it’s humanly impossible to fathom the love Jesus has for us…for it’s beyond our comprehension. But Jesus loves you with a love that will never end…never give up…never forsake.
Having a really bad day? Go outside then, take a deep breath, and look up into the sky. Now celebrate the fact that God’s majesty is on display just for you. Thank Him that He sought you out in your brokenness and worked a miracle in your life. Proclaim to Him again your trust in His son, Jesus Christ. Gaze up into the sky and recognize… that vast expanse above you can not start to contain God’s love for you.
As people waited in the crowded lobby, I over-heard a kind looking elderly gentleman ask the young lady seated next to him a rather probing question. She was bent over her phone, oblivious to anything or one around her, when he asked, “What would you be doing right now if you weren’t on your phone?” His tone of voice was gentle and reflective, which completely caught the young lady off guard and rendered her speechless. His question though got my mind whirling! How can we show the agape love of Christ to others when we’re folded up like a flower over our phones? How can we be Jesus to those around us when we totally disengaged from our surroundings…detached and indifferent? This verse says we are to be united in love which takes dedicated involvement and connection…not self-isolation and selfishness.