1 Thessalonians 4:1
Furthermore then we beseech you, brothers, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus…
This verse introduces a series of practical exhortations by an urgent entreaty to general Christian progress. The details of conduct must be considered. But the spirit and character of the whole life are of primary importance. First see to the health of the whole tree; then prune and train the several branches.
I. THE GREAT OBLIGATION OF CHRISTIAN PROGRESS.
1. It requires a full, round development of spiritual graces. It is not satisfied with a shrunken, shriveled life of the soul. The meager Christianity of those who are only concerned with the minimum requirements of religion is foreign to the very nature of a true spiritual life. This should abound; it should overflow; it should be developed in all directions. A one-sided life is maimed and marred, however advanced it may be in a particular direction. We should aim at completing the circle of graces. This is what is meant by being "perfect."
2. It proceeds by gradual growth. We are to abound "more and more." The, attainment which is respectable today will become despicable if it is not exceeded to-morrow. The growth is double - a greater achievement according to our present capacities and an enlargement of those capacities. The precious wine rises higher in the vessel; and the vessel itself expands.
II. THE DISTINCTIVE CHARACTERISTICS OF CHRISTIAN PROGRESS.
1. It consists in conduct. We are required to grow in knowledge. But this is not the most important form of spiritual progress. It has come about, unfortunately, that the phrase "advanced Christianity" stands for a certain doctrinal movement. It should be chiefly used for moral and spiritual progress. The great advance is to be in the walk and conversation of life - the daily, normal conduct.
2. It is guided by knowledge. St. Paul exhorts his readers to abound more and more in the conduct which follows his directions, "As ye have received of us." This progress is not to be according to our own fancied ideal of perfection. It is in pursuit of clear duty, and that duty is declared in Christian teaching.
3. It is grounded on previous experience. In the Revised Version we read the addition, "even as ye do walk." Future progress depends on our present position. We must not be always laying a new foundation. The Christian life is not a series of revolutions. Because more is required of the Christian, the good already attained is not ignored.
4. It aims at pleasing God. Thus it is characterized by a regard for the will of God. It is not satisfied with reaching any human standard. It is required to be pure, true, and spiritual.
III. THE STRONG INDUCEMENTS TOWARDS CHRISTIAN PROGRESS.
1. They are urged with personal appeals. St. Paul beseeches and exhorts. He appeals to the brotherhood of Christians and its tie of mutual affection between himself and his readers.
2. They are centered in regard for Christ. "By the Lord Jesus Christ." This is a sort of adjuration. The close relation of the Christian to Christ is his grand motive for striving after true progress. The grace of Christ supplies the power; the love of Christ brings the obligation. By all that he is to us we are urged to be worthy of him in an even richer and fuller Christian life. - W.F.A.
Parallel VersesKJV: Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more.