1 Thessalonians 4:9-11
But as touching brotherly love you need not that I write to you: for you yourselves are taught of God to love one another.…
In the second century Lucian declared: "It is incredible to see the ardour with which the people of that religion help each other in their wants. They spare nothing. Their first legislator has put it into their heads that they are all brethren." The mutual exercise of love towards the brethren is an indisputable evidence of spiritual regeneration (1 John 3:14); and in this chapter the apostle evidently alludes to it as the proof of a true sanctification. Observe —
I. THAT BROTHERLY LOVE IS DIVINELY TAUGHT (ver. 9).
1. It is commanded by Christ (John 15:17). This is a lesson the world never taught, and cannot teach. The natural heart is selfish and cruel, and delights in aggression and retaliation. Brotherly love is a fruit of Christianity, and is a powerful influence in harmonising the warring interests of humanity. If love prevail, other graces will not be absent.
2. It has the example of Christ. He reminds His disciples of what should be its scope and character. "As I have loved you." The same glorious example was also the constant burden of the apostle's teaching (John 13:34; John 15:12; Ephesians 5:2). Brotherly love should be pure, humble, self-denying, fervent, unchangeable.
3. It is its own commendation. "Ye need not that I write unto you." Love is modest, ingenuous, and unobtrusive. We should not hesitate to commend whatever good we see in others. The Great Searcher of hearts does not pass over any good thing in a Church, though otherwise clouded with infirmities (Revelation 2:2, 3). A word of prudent commendation will often stimulate the soul in its endeavours after holiness.
4. It is a grace Divinely wrought. "Ye yourselves are taught of God." The heart is inclined to this grace by the Holy Spirit, in conjunction with the out. ward ministry of the Word (Jeremiah 31:33; Acts 16:14). Those are easily taught whom God teaches.
II. THAT BROTHERLY LOVE MUST BE PRACTICALLY MANIFESTED (ver. 10). Love is not limited by locality or distance; it is displayed, not only towards those with whom we have communion, but towards others. Missions are a monument of modern Christian charity. Love should be practically manifested in supplying each other's need, in bearing one another's burdens, in forgiving one another, and, if necessary, in kindly reproving one another.
III. THAT BROTHERLY LOVE IS SUSCEPTIBLE OF CONTINUOUS ENLARGEMENT. "Increase more and more." Notwithstanding the commendation of the apostle, he exhorts the Thessalonians to seek greater perfection. What is the sun without light? What is fire without heat? So what is life without love? The rich seek to increase their store, the wicked add to their iniquities; the saint should not be less diligent in increasing unto every good word and work. The growth of charity is extensive, and it adds to the number of the objects loved, and intensive as to its inward fervour and tenacity. The more we apprehend the love of God the more our hearts will enlarge in love. True brotherly love crushes all self-love, and is more anxious to hide than pry into the infirmities of others. Seldom is a charitable man curious, or a curious man charitable. Lessons:
1. That brotherly love is the practical manifestation of the love of God in man.
2. That brotherly love should be constantly cultivated.
3. That brotherly love is a crowning feature of the higher Christian life.
Parallel VersesKJV: But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another.