Christian Love

Title: Christian Love

Bible Book: 1 Thessalonians 4 : 8-12

Author: J. Mike Minnix

Subject: Love, Christian; Love One Another


[Editor's Note: This sermon contains very few illustrations, but be sure to look at the end of the of the sermon for Extra Illustrations. Those listed were used in the sermon but not noted in the place where they were used. They are added at the end to assist the reader in developing the subject of love among Christians.]

With Valentine's Day right around the corner, it is fitting for us to examine an area related to love in the service today. I want us to think today about the love that Jesus intended for Christians to have toward one another. Did you know that failing to understand and practice Christian love properly can be hazardous to your walk with God and your effectiveness for Him? Well, let me assure you that it can be. We are going to learn the blessings in loving God’s people properly and the dangers involved in failing to do so.

A teacher in a public school classroom was attempting to teach her children the subtly of language. She asked a boy named Tommy, “Tommy, can you tell the class the difference between like and love?” The little boy thought a moment and said, “I like my sister, but I love Milk Duds.”

To most people, love is something we feel toward people or things that we like, enjoy or appreciate. Actually, Christian Love is different entirely. Christian Love is based on a commitment to God and a yielding to His Spirit and leadership in how we treat people, especially fellow believers. We are required to run our feelings through God's filter so that all the impure or improper attitudes are corrected through His love and grace.

In 1 Thessalonians 4:9-12, Paul addressed the subject of loving the brothers – which means to love fellow Christians. As he penned these words, the Holy Spirit led him to write some important things on the subject: "But concerning brotherly love you have no need that I should write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another; 10 and indeed you do so toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, that you increase more and more; 11 that you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you, 12 that you may walk properly toward those who are outside, and that you may lack nothing." (NKJV)

Now, before I share some very critical thoughts on this subject, let me add some introductory comments. The Bible tells us that we are to love God and that we are to love our family. Again, we are told to love our enemies and we are told to love the lost and seek to win them to salvation. All of these divine directions regarding love are important, and a great sermon series could be delivered by speaking about each of them. Perhaps the Lord will lead us that way in the future, but love for fellow Christians is another kind of love which we must understand and apply in our lives. My comments today will be focused on the love of Christians for one another.

I. The Emphasis on Christian Love

Paul wrote about Christian love in our text and spoke of it in an interesting way. He told his readers that he did not have to write to them about this since they had already learned the matter from God. Yet, he did write to them about it. Why? He did so because this subject demands emphasis even for the best of God's servants. It is that critical because even those of us who know better often fail to show proper love toward fellow believers. Paul tells those at Thessalonica that they are already loving but he urges them to do so more and more. You see the emphasis being laid upon the subject by Paul and note that there is an intensity here that cannot be ignored.

A. From Jesus

To see how this subject is emphasized in Scripture, look with me at some passages that reflect the breadth and depth of the matter.

First, turn to John 13:34, and read the words of Jesus on the subject, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

In other words, Jesus is our example in the matter of knowing how to love. Jesus loved His disciples no matter how they failed Him or how they lacked a pure love toward Him. When Peter denied the Lord three times right before the crucifixion, Jesus did not stop loving Him. That is the kind of love He demands of us. We will fail our Lord and one another at times, but we are not to cease loving one another. You cannot be like Jesus unless you practice this principle in your daily life.

B. From Paul

Then, let's look at Paul’s comment found in Ephesians 5:1-2, “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

Paul reminds us that we are to imitate our Lord and to do so requires a deep and profound commitment on our part. We tend to be very selfish but to love like God loves requires that we allow Him to love through us! Note that Jesus loved us so much that he "gave" Himself for us, and He did so because of His love. Loving God's way means to give up something of yourself in the process. You don't love because you merely want to but you love because you ought to!

C. From Peter

Peter spoke on this subject in 1 Peter 4:8-9, writing, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.”

We do not love people because they are perfect or even nearly perfect. We love them even as sinners and our love covers a multitude of sins - meaning that our love goes beyond what they have done to who there are to God and to us. We love others even when their transgressions are apparent. After all, that is how God loves us.

D. From John

And John, the disciple Jesus loved, wrote in I John 3:11-12, “This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother's were righteous.”

Our love must overcome the struggle for attention. Sometimes we dislike someone because they are successful and make us feel less important or insignificant. This is like the hatred of Cain toward Abel. We are to love the down and out person and the up and in person. Those of great failure and those of great success need our love. Most importantly, we need to emulate Jesus in our love for them, just as Jesus instructed us to love.

II. The Example of Christian Love

1 John 4:7-11 reads, “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. Our Lord is the perfect example of perfect love. There are three important matters related to the kind of love Jesus expects us to emulate.”

A. Giving

Real love gives. This new millenium began with what must be considered the most selfish generation ever. The selfie, personal blogs and Facebook postings telling us where people are eating dinner, are reminders that now, more than any other time in history, we are consumed with self! This age is an age of "I Did It My Way." In this age when everyone can share accomplishments, joys, sadness, bitterness, hatred, political leanings, love, ego, lust, and inate studity twenty-fours a day through cell phones and computers, we can get a look at the dark side of the human soul. Living in an age when one can get pretty much what is desired, or complain to the world if you don't get what you want, reveals how selfish the human heart is.

This generation is also used to getting what it wants immediately. Have you noticed that most young couples who get married these days want everything it took their parents thirty year to obtain on the day of their weddint? Patience is lacking and the lack of it is a sign that there is not a lot of love for others in our world today. This, sadly, is seen inside the churches where the people of God are called upon to display the love of Jesus to one another. So, now, instead of acting with love and patience, people expect to receive rather than give. God’s love is not like that.

God gave!
God’s love gives!
God loves those who give pure love to one another!

God’s people must be ready to give the gifts of love, kindness, gentleness, compassion, and longsuffering. You will note in verse 8 of our text today that Paul reminds us that God gave us His Holy Spirit. That means we should reflect the Fruit of the Spirit in our lives by allowing the Holy Spirit to work God's love through us to others.

Look at Galatians 5:19-6:7, "The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load. Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor. Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows."

Note in Galatians how Paul deals with immorality, just as he did in Thessalonians. Then, he deals with love and kindness, just as he did in Thessalonians. Then, he goes on to let us know that we will reap what we sow. If we don’t sow love, we will reap the anger, dissension, and judgment just like that which we are imposing on others. I will say a little more about that later in the message, but for now be aware that the Christian is to be giving love the way Christ gave love to us.

B. Grace

Christ died for us when we were yet sinners. That is grace, for we certainly did not deserve to be loved. It is difficult to love those who don’t love you, or whom you just have a problem with for some reason, but that is God’s way of loving. In a way, we can say that loving people that make it difficult for us to love them creates in a us a Christian discipline. It calls us to check our own feelings and desires and to yield them up to God's will and purpose in our lives. One cannot love the unloveable people without making a sacrifice of personal preference, and that is exactly what Jesus did for us. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus praying, "No my will but thine be done." That is how one shows Christ-like love to others.

III. The End Results of Christian Love

A. The End Results of the Absence of Christian Love

Matthew 25:40, “The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’”

In others words, when we act in love toward each other, we are actually acting in love toward Christ. To fail to show that love, is to fail to love Christ. So, the absence of love toward each other is an absence of love toward Jesus. We can see this principle in other passages as well. Philippians 2 speaks to us of the humility and love required in those who imitate Christ. In fact, the loving humble mind of Christ led Him to give Himself on the cross for us. As a result, He is highly exalted and has a name above every name. The implication is that humility and love lead to being useful for God and blessed by Him. This implies that the absence of love leads to an unprofitable and ineffective life – a life which God will not bless.

In fact, when you look at the life of Jesus, you note that the people He judged most harshly were those Pharisees who were unloving, judgmental, and thought of themselves and their opinions as superior to everyone else. The lack of love the Pharisees displayed limited their ability to see who Christ was and thus for them to be of any usefulness to God's cause.

Look at Colossians 3:12-15, “Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.”

Let me share what I believe is a true biblical and divine principle regarding this matter. When we act in a way that is unloving, unkind and does not reflect humility, gentleness, kindness and goodness, God then and there determines to allow the same attitude which we are showing toward a fellow believer to come back on us. To see this more fully, look at Matthew 7:1-3, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” In other words, when you judge another Christian with an attitude that is unloving, God will judge you with the same measure.

Of course, this does not mean that we wink at sin, condone sin, and fail to call it by its real name. What it means is that we must always act in love and kindness, and this is especially true in matters that relate to our being intrusive and nosy. That is why Paul tells us in this text to mind our own business. He is making it plain that we are not to go around trying to run everybody’s life for them. We need to do what we are called to do the best we can for Christ rather than trying to judge the work everybody else is doing in the kingdom.

A lack of love in a Christian is a dangerous thing, for it can divide the body of Christ and profoundly hinder the Lord's kingdomwork. It can spread rumors and ruin reputations, and it is often harmful to faithful workers who are serving God as diligently as they can. It can rebound to the person who lacks love and cause that person to be judged by God, to be found ineffective and not blessed fully by the Lord.

B. The End Results of the Presence of Christian Love
1. Imitation

When we love as Jesus loved, we imitate our Lord. In other words, nothing makes us more like Him than loving. Look at Ephesians 5:1-2, "Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God."

We are never more like Jesus than when we love like Jesus loved. This does not mean to love only those who love us. Jesus loved us before we loved Him. He gave Himself as an atoning sacrifice for us while we were yet sinners. He expects us to love the same way!

2. Identification

It reflects Christ to the world and is our greatest witnessing tool. Jesus said, "By this shall all men know that you are my disciples." It is this wonderful, uniting, humble love that tells the world that we are God’s people, we belong to Jesus! Without this love, we cannot properly reflect Him to others. When we are acting in selfishness, anger, bitterness, haughtiness, and arrogance, we dirty the lens through which we are called upon to reflect the light of Christ to a hurting, lost world.

It is imperative that we recommit ourselves to reflect the love of Christ. If we fail to do so, we hinder the gospel, we hurt the work of his church, we halt our growth and development. and we invite into our lives the same treatment on ourselves that we are exacting on others.


General Robert E. Lee was asked what he thought of a fellow officer in the Confederate Army who had made some derogatory remarks about him. Lee rated him as being very satisfactory. The person who asked the question seemed perplexed.

General, he said, "I guess you don't know what he's been saying about you."

"I know," answered Lee. "But, I was asked my opinion of him, not his opinion of me!"

Just be assured of this, when God gets ready to measure a man he puts the tape measure around his heart not his head!

Extra Illustrations:

Some years ago a pastor went to Texas to attend a convention of Mexican Christians. While he was there, he received word that his wife had suddenly been stricken with a serious illness. Immediately he hurried to catch the first train home. During the long, sleepless hours of the night his heart was filled with anxiety. The next morning the conductor handed him a telegram, saying that the message be important, for it was specially relayed to us at the last station. The minister told the conductor that he feared it was bad news and perhaps even a death notice. Then with deep emotion and trembling hands he slowly opened it. As he read the words, tears filled his eyes. He was overwhelmed, not with sorrow but with joy. This was the message: "Mexican Convention in session all night. Prayed for you and your wife. She will get well!" When he arrived home, he found that she had begun to improve from the hour he left the meeting. Although the pastor and his loved one were unaware of it at the time, both of them had been upheld in prayer by Christians in a wonderful fellowship of love.


Perhaps you have noticed that a commercial coffee pot has a glass tube running up the front of the holding tank. You can see a certain level of coffee in the glass. That, of course, is to tell you how much coffee is in the pot. You could not take the lid off and see very well how much is in the pot, but the glass tube tells you exactly how much is present. That is the way it is with Christian love. One cannot look inside and see how much love he or she has for God; however, you can look at how you treat others, how you judge them, how you befriend them, and see the level of your love at all times


Sometimes the winds of trouble blow hard enough to topple us. Alone we might fall. But if we draw on the support of our brothers and sisters in Christ, we will have the strength we need to stand. This can been seen in nature. You know that the redwood trees are among the tallest in the world. But did you know that they have some of the shortest roots? The question is, how do they stand the strong winds when they are so tall and have such short roots? The answer is that their roots grow along the surface and link up with the roots of other redwoods forming a bond that is tremendously powerful! That is what God expects us to do for one another.


Theodor Reik tells of a youngster in an orphanage who constantly annoyed everyone. It seemed that she never did anything right, and no one liked her. One day her roommate told the matron that the girl had scrawled something on small scraps of paper and tied them to the limbs of a nearby tree. Hoping for an excuse to send her to a mental institution, the woman went outside and read one of the notes. In silence she handed it to an assistant as she hung her head in shame. It said, "Whoever finds this - I love you!" The child had a craving for compassion and understanding that had not been fulfilled. This accounted for her exasperating behavior. (source unknown)


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