LOVE + LOVE = HOLINESS ?  (1 Thessalonians 3)

by Jun 17, 2022

May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father… (1 Thessalonians 3:12)

As a pastor few things delight me more than seeing the ones I have invested time and energy in discipling blossom in their faith, faithfully following the Lord even through hardships. They are the good soil that Jesus talked about in the Parable of the Sower, enduring and therefore producing much fruit. In Chapter 3 we see Paul’s love for his church in Thessalonica demonstrated in his anxiousness to know how they are faring in their newfound faith and his yearning to be reunited with them. He rejoices when Timothy reports back with good news about their faith and love.  God is pleased when He sees his children loving one another, living in harmony, helping each other grow in their faith, and bringing others into the Kingdom. It fills me with joy when I see the same in my church, in my little community of brothers and sisters. They do not let gossip, or slander, or disagreements over minute issues bring division and break fellowship. They practice love and kindness. Forbearance and patience abound. The temperature of the house is a solid 72 degrees of grace.

Upon hearing how the church is faring Paul becomes so joyful he can’t help himself — midway through his letter to the Thessalonians he breaks into an early benediction saying “may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus…make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all…so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father.” His heart is bursting! It is interesting to note here that Paul draws a connection between love and holiness. Do you see that? Holiness requires purity, righteousness, an absence of sin. It’s as if Paul is saying that the more you love the more holy you are.

But is that true? What is the relationship between holiness and love? Well, we know from Scripture that without holiness no one will see the Lord (Heb 12:14) and that love covers a multitude of sins (1 Pet 4:8). Within the Godhead itself we find a perfect union of love and holiness. There is an interconnectivity. Jonathan Leeman (9Marks) puts it this way: “Holiness is the measure of love’s devotion to God, or, more specifically, the purity of love’s devotion to God. How purely does God love God? That’s how holy God is. How purely does a man love God? That’s how holy a man is. Or another way to say it would be that God’s love is directed by God’s holiness. It always and only moves toward holy ends.”