Increasing In Love For Each Other
Paul is praying for two accomplishments to happen in these people: that they would increase in love and that God would guard their hearts.
Alright, thank you very much, and hello again, radio friends. How in the world are you? Are you doing alright today? Well, that little greeting establishes the fact that this is again your good friend, Bob Cook, and I’m so grateful for the privilege of being with you for a little while by way of radio. The miles drop away and we’re in each other’s presence together with our Lord. I like that, don’t you?
We’re looking at 1 Thessalonians, Chapter 3, and we’ve come down to Verse 12. In 11, he said, “Now may God our Father direct our way unto you.” He’s still praying that he’ll get to see them. There’s no harm in wanting something as long as you submit it to God. Have you thought that through? Many people feel as though anything they want is really not right, or that God’s big job is saying ‘no’ to everything. No, just the opposite is true. The psalmist says, “Delight thyself also in the Lord, and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” There’s no harm in wanting things or relationships or accomplishments if you submit them to God. Our Lord Jesus prayed nevertheless, “Not My will, but Thine be done.” And you and I do well to share our wants with our Heavenly Father, within the framework of absolute submission to His will. And that takes all the sweat, all the tension, out of it. And you can be honest with God and say “Lord, I want this,” but yes, you’ll have perfect peace when you say Lord, “I don’t want anything but Your perfect will in the matter.” Do you follow that?
Oh, this goes so deep because sometimes it’s a matter of needing someone with whom you can share your life. And sometimes, it’s a matter having to do with the dollar sign, and the acquisition of at least enough money to pay the bills. There’s too much month at the end of the money, and you think and pray about that. And sometimes it has to do with job situations, and you want a promotion. You want to get on up in the corporate ladder. And sometimes it has to do with family situations, and you wish, oh how you wish that situations might be changed, and that people might feel differently toward you, and all the millions of things that make up everyday life, and the feelings we have in relationship to them. And the only place of perfect peace, beloved, is to be absolutely honest with God about it as you pray. Tell Him what you want.
Philippians 4 says, “In everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests” (everything, that is; not some things) “be made known unto God and as a result, the peace of God, which passeth all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds as though there was a garrison of soldiers placed around you.” Oh, perfect peace comes when you are absolutely honest with God about what you want, but you pray within the framework of absolute submission to the perfect will of God. That’s a great truth, isn’t it? Fasten it in your own heart and mind. Nail it down, so that you don’t lose it, and then use that perspective in dealing with the things and the relationships that you want in life. Well, that was all review. It was kind of long, wasn’t it?
Now we come to Verse 12 of Chapter 3 of 1 Thessalonians: “And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love, one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you.” To increase has the idea of growing, and the word abound has the idea of overflowing. Growing and overflowing; increase and abound in love. Now there are two great accomplishments for which Paul is praying on behalf of these people. Concerning himself, he prayed that he might get to see them. In Verse 12, he’s praying that God’s love (agape: Calvary, John 3:16 kind of love) may increase (that’s the idea of growing) and abound (that’ the idea of spilling over) in love toward one another (that’s the church family) and to all men (that’s the world around.)
Then, the second objective is “To the end, that He may establish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.” Remember, every chapter of 1 Thessalonians speaks of the coming of Christ. In Chapter 2, it ended up, “What is our hope or joy or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus at His coming?” And in Chapter 1 he said, “You turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God and to wait for His Son from Heaven.” So you have references constantly here, every chapter, for the second coming. In Chapter 1, the personal transformation that comes to a person who makes the Lord Jesus Christ his Lord and Savior is that he has now as his perspective, his outlook, his horizon involves to serve the living God and to wait for His Son from Heaven. That’s Chapter 1.
Chapter 2 points out that the crowning reward for a believer’s service is to see other people whom he has brought to Christ at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. “Our hope and joy and crown of rejoicing are ye,” you people are my crown, said he. “In the presence of our Lord Jesus at His coming.” Then we have Chapter 3, “Establish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” So you have increasing and spilling-over love, and you have unblameable holiness as an establishment in your own life.
Well, now, let’s talk about that for a little while. “The Lord make you to increase in love.” How do you do that? Well, number one, you can’t produce it by yourself. You can repent of those bitter things that stand in the way of the outpouring of God’s love. There is the need for forgiveness. “When ye stand praying,” Jesus said to His disciples as recorded in Mark, “forgive if ye have aught against any, for if you do not from your heart forgive,” (I started to quote it and lost it there, didn’t I?) “neither will your Father in Heaven forgive you.” That’s the point he’s making.
The Lord’s Prayer, as we call it, says, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive them who trespass against us.” So forgiveness is part of the requirement. Now I’ve turned to the pages of my big Bible, over to Mark 11: “When ye stand praying, forgive if ye have aught against any, that your Father, which is also in Heaven, may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in Heaven, forgive your trespasses.” That’s the passage that I was trying to quote (Mark 11:25.)
You can do that. You and I have the responsibility of facing our own meanness and unforgiveness and bringing that to the Cross and having it cleansed. I always remember in this connection something I read in a book by a West Coast writer who mentioned that she found it impossible to forgive her parents for some slight that she had suffered at their hands. She said, “I can’t forgive them.” And as the years went by, finally a trusted friend said to her as they were discussing the matter, said, “Who lives in your heart?” “Well, Jesus.” And her friend said, “Why don’t you let Him do the forgiving?” And the truth of the matter dawned upon her that the Christ who dwells within us is able to do what we cannot do, and so you trust Him to bring about that forgiveness that you would not humanly be able to achieve.
Now the same thing is true, then, in this matter of divine love. Romans 5:5 says, “The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost who is given unto us.” The Holy Spirit of God comes to dwell in the believer the moment you make the Lord Jesus Christ the Lord of your life and trust Him as your Savior. The blessed Holy Spirit then takes up residence in your life. And part of His work is to just spill over into your life the Calvary love, the agape love, the John 3:16 love of God in your heart.
Paul said, “The love of Christ constraineth us.” The spill-over of divine love comes from the presence and ministry of the Holy Spirit. Galatians 5:22 starts with that, doesn’t it? “The fruit of the Spirit is love.” Then he mentions joy and peace and all the rest. So, you start, then, at the Cross. You bring those things that have stood between you and God and between you and people to Him for forgiveness and cleansing. Unforgiveness is a sin. Bitterness is a sin. Hatred is a sin. John, the beloved apostle, likens it to murder. He said, “He that hates his brother is a murderer.” That’s pretty strong language, isn’t it? All of these things, though they may be respectable in society, things that you can “get away with,” as we say, are sins. We bring them to the Cross and let Jesus cleanse us from them.
Then what? Oh, the Spirit of God, then, unhindered by these matters that have stood in the way, pours out the love of Christ in our lives. “Make you to increase,” he said, “in Calvary love.” Now, this is not a static business. This is something we need to remember. It’s not a static business where you say, “Well, I went forward at such-and-such a meeting, and I know that I’m saved, and I’m on my way to Heaven, and so on. Oh no. This is a process. Increase in more love today than you had yesterday. Period,end of sentence. More of an outpouring of God’s great love today than you had last week or last month or last year. The songwriter said so truly, “More love to Thee, O Christ, more love to Thee.” Increase in Calvary love for God and for people.
Then he said, “Abound.” And that means the spill-over. This is largely a result, not an effort. It’s akin to the reaction of the young man who has just fallen in love. Why, he just spills over with enthusiasm concerning his lady love. And so indeed in the case of you and me, when our hearts are filled with the love of God, it’ll spill out and people will know. Well, we’ll get at this the next time we get together.
Dear Father today, fill our lives with Thy love and let it spill over to other people, I ask in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Till I meet you again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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