Abound In Love Toward One Another
A Spirit of Power
1 Thessalonians 3:12 (KJV)
And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you:
1. To occur or exist in great quantities or numbers: This stream, in which trout abound, is good for fishing.
2. To be rich or well supplied (usually followed by in) : The region abounds in coal.
3. To be filled; teem (usually followed by with ) : The ship’s hole abounds with cargo.
No matter how you define it, if you abound in something, you have plenty of it. In this case that something in question is love. Paul is prayerfully urging the Thessalonians to be made to increase in love, by God, and to share that love with one another as well as all men. It’s not a bad prayer, and all of us would do well to adopt and make it our practice as well. In fact it touches on the necessity of the importance for having love toward your fellow man. Not to mention that it is commanded by all who would follow in the footsteps of Christ. Consider this passage as a reminder of that importance.
Leviticus 19:34 (KJV)
But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.
Everything that Paul is directing is in keeping with the will of our Heavenly Father. It certainly echoes the second command of Christ; “…to love your neighbor as you love yourself.” There is however, something deeper taking place with Paul’s urgency to the Church in Thessalonica. There is also the wording he uses to finish the statement; “…even as we do toward you.” To gain a deeper understanding, let us look at the conditions surrounding Paul and his converts, the Thessalonians.
From the very start there was difficulty to overcome just to get the Church on its feet. Luke records, in Acts 17:5 that the Jews were jealous of the progress being made with the Greeks and other gentiles when the gospel was first presented. These same Jews went and found the worst men the town had to offer and started a riot. This is not the best conditions to start a new Church.
Here we have a clear example of what can happen when love does not abound. Instead of love, the Jews abounded in jealousy. When first arriving, Paul and his party (Silas and Timothy), found a synagogue where they preached the gospel of Jesus for three weeks. In addition to the large number of Greeks and other prominent members of society; some of the Jews had accepted the gospel and joined Paul as converts. No doubt the Jewish community was envious of the rapid success the gospel was receiving. It’s believable that the Jewish community had existed for some time in the area; certainly longer than any followers of Christ. To be challenged on their own turf and have some of their very own drawn into the new doctrine was more than they could handle.
In a very similar sense, we can find ourselves and others reacting in much the same way. How many rivalries occur in the workplace, between companies, in politics, and among celebrities? How many times has jealousy been behind the violence in our schools and neighborhoods?
Romans 1:16 (KJV)
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
Paul believed in Jesus. His love abounded in Christ and the desire to share the gospel with all men. In the face of persecution he allowed the power of the gospel and his love toward this new Church; even in the face of personal danger, to stand firm. For his efforts he and the men with him had to quickly get out of town. The trouble didn’t stop there; instead it turned on his new converts. Scripture tells us that Jason, the convert who they had been staying with, had his house stormed and was dragged before the authorities along with some other brothers. They were only released because Paul and the others were not found and there was no clear evidence of wrongdoing to hold them (Acts 17:5-9).
After leaving Thessalonica, Paul encountered the Bereans in the town of Berea, where he and his party of men again preached the gospel of Jesus. Again trouble sprang up as the Thessalonica Jews pursued them there in their persecution. Escorted by the new converts, Paul left for the coastal area and then on to Athens; leaving Silas and Timothy behind (Acts 17:10-15). Once again, it was out of abounding love that the message of the gospel stood up in the face of challenges. To this day what was started in a short time span by Paul and his company has endured and flourished from this Macedonian region into modern day America (see Bereans, Wikipedia).
Romans 8:35 (KJV)
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
Accepting Jesus Christ means accepting His abounding love for us, and allowing that love to abound in our lives. The gospel is not just empty words that we hear but is also the “Spirit of Christ” that comes to us with power. As we are willing, that power works to quicken our spirit with an abounding love of obedience to the command to “Love One Another.” Paul’s letter encouraged his young Church of converts to “…abound in love one toward another, and toward all men…”, but the report from Timothy suggests that they were already affected in the same way that he had been affected. Remember John’s quote from Christ Himself…
"If ye love me, keep my commandments."