Thursday in the Thirteenth Week of Ordinary Time

1 Thessalonians 4:9-12

Concerning Brotherly Love

Tertullian, a third-century teacher in the Church in North Africa, once quoted the pagans as saying of Christians of that era, “See how they love each other.”  1 John 3:14 tells us that “we know that we have passed out of death into life because we love the brothers.”  Love of fellow-believers is a quintessential mark of any local body of Jesus Christ, and of the universal Church as well.  Do not think that we should love pagans equally as the brotherhood.  Granted, we should treat unbelievers with the same fairness in our dealings as we would a beloved brother and be kind and generous to everyone we meet.  But believers share a bond with other believers that we cannot share with unbelievers simply because of the Spirit living within us.  Indeed, a Christian’s close friends should be other Christians because of that spiritual bond.  One would think something terribly wrong if one did not have a special affection for one’s own blood brother or sister; we should expect no less of that spiritual bond believers can only share with other believers.  And how great a scandal it is to unbelievers within a community when it becomes public knowledge that a local church is divided within itself; even they know that people who profess Christ should not behave in such a way.

And the Thessalonian Christians did love one another and even shared resources beyond their means to help their suffering brethren in Jerusalem (2 Corinthians 8:1-5).  But one problem they had which inadvertently relates to brotherly love is that some of them had become idle, not busy at work but becoming busybodies.  So bad was the problem that Paul had to refer to it again in his second letter to them (3:6-15).  We assume that this character defect among some of them might have been due to a presumption that the Lord’s imminent return precluded the need to earn a living, and so was one of the reasons Paul addressed this doctrine in both his letters to them.  We must remember that work is not a curse but a blessing from the Lord, for we were commanded to keep the Garden before we sinned—sin made work a drudgery by making it so that we must wrench fruit from our labor rather than enjoying it naturally there from.  But the Christian ethic adds that we should do our work as unto the Lord which then fills our work with immense meaning (1 Corinthians 10:31; Colossians 3:23-24).  My experience has been that people who do not hold jobs either from inability or unwillingness are among the most miserable of people.  And so the Apostle implores us to “live quietly,” mind our own business, and work so as not to be a burden on others, which is not practicing brotherly love.  Circumstances might one day render us needy, but we are never to choose to be needy.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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