1 Thessalonians 4:9-10
9 Now as to the love of the brethren, you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another; 10 for indeed you do practice it toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, to excel still more,
I love finding verses in the bible that have so much information packed in it as these do. First we need to understand that when Paul says “brethren,” he is talking about fellow believers or other Christians. Verse 9 talks about the message and gift of the Spirit that we receive once we accept Christ as our savior. His love is written on our hearts. This is also known as His Word. It’s all intertwined. This is what instructs us to love one another. This is Paul’s point here. God’s Word, written on our hearts as believers as part of the gift of the Holy Spirit, instructs us to love one another. Notice how he particularly says it teaches us, not makes us. We still have to choose to love each other in the way we are instructed.
The next part is not much of a surprise since previously in this letter Paul explained how well Thessalonica is doing as they grow in the faith according to the report from Timothy. The reference to Macedonia is of another church. Here is something we don’t find happening often today: churches working together. For one, back then there weren’t different theologies or viewpoints, it was the simple message of Christ and Him crucified. Nowadays we all have our own interpretation and it is where we draw lines in the sand instead of respecting each other’s viewpoints.
To take this a step further, I begin thinking about differences in religions all together. I find it ironic that the major religions in this world all preach peace, lack of judgment, and understanding. Yet, instead of loving a brother (in this case I am referring to fellow human beings, regardless of belief) we argue how wrong they are and why they are. Seems like we constantly miss the point. As Christians we forget that belief in Christ as our Savior isn’t about convincing or tricking someone into believing. Our belief and faith comes from God Himself and as believers we are to seek and follow His will and love everyone as He loves us. We forget that God made them too and they are a part of His plan just as much as we are. During my time in the military I met more Muslims than Christians who were more welcoming and loving. I think that is part of the reason why I stayed away from “the church” for as long as I did.
The end of verse 10 is a repeated point that Paul is trying to drive home, to excel still more. I believe Paul wants to make sure that we never feel as if we have arrived. If we do, we are missing something and are making ourselves ignorant to it. Until Christ returns, we are not “there” yet. As we see in Philippians 1:6,“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” We can constantly work to better ourselves. This is the journey known as Christianity, our walk with Christ, following The Way.
How can we excel still more in loving our fellow brother? What is it about God’s perfect law that we are missing and can strive to improve? How can we work on a stronger relationship with Christ?