Ray of Hope Shining on the Face of a Child

A daily devotion for March 14th

Keep Loving and Keep Working

Now about your love for one another we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. …  Yet we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more, and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, …  so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.

1 Thessalonians 4:9-12

Keep loving and keep working is Paul's excellent advice. First, keep loving! Keep your attitude toward others warm and gracious. Watch how you speak. If you offend, correct it. I once said an ungracious word to a man who was trying to help me with my microphone. I had to go to him afterward and confess that. We must keep loving and forgiving one another, and refrain from being bitter, resentful, sarcastic or critical toward another.

God, through his Holy Spirit, teaches us how to love one another. God's love has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit which has been given to us (Romans 5:5 RSV). If we welcome that love of the Spirit, we can manifest love to each other. If we choose to be bitter, then that love will not be manifested. But if we reject the caustic word, the sharp attitude, then we can show kindness, mercy, and grace to one another. By means of the Spirit, believers have a new capacity to love that the world does not possess.

This does not mean we will immediately feel loving. Christians feel the same way non-Christians do. But the good news is that though we may feel this way momentarily, we can reject that feeling. We do not have to regard others as rivals or enemies, but as victims in need of sympathy and help. Then, by drawing upon the grace that God has given us, we can begin to act lovingly. The apostle tells them to love each other more and more. They should apply it in increasingly wider areas, reaching out to one another.

Secondly, they should stay busy with profitable labor. Some believers had stopped working because they thought the coming of the Lord was at hand. Thus they became a burden to others. As weeks went by and the Lord did not come, they ran out of food. They would have starved if Christian friends had not come to their aid. They became a burden to the rest of the church.

Paul will deal with that more sharply in the second letter, but here he is saying that true faith in Christ does not produce fanaticism. It does not encourage people to abandon everything, dress in white robes and go out on a hilltop, waiting for Jesus to come. One of the last words of our Lord to his disciples was, Occupy till I come (Luke 19:13). Even he did not know what day that would be. These Christians were making fools of themselves by stressing the immediacy of the coming of the Lord to such a degree that they stopped working. Their extreme action turned many against Christ. The apostle corrects that kind of thinking in these words: Keep busy, providing your own needs, so you do not become a burden to others and win the respect of the outside world.

Lord, Jesus, teach me to love like you loved, and teach me to work like you worked.

Life Application

Are you complicating life too much, avoiding the simplicity of both love and work?

This Daily Devotion was Inspired by one of Ray's Messages

Comfort at the Grave

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