Love Is the Spring of True Holiness
I Thess. 3:12 And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we abound in love for you. 13 And may he so strengthen your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.
Paul was overflowing with love for the Thessalonian believers. He understood this as coming from God, for he had been filled with the Holy Spirit and therefore with God’s nature. This nature is holy love and it literally bubbled out of him, and reached out to the world around him.
This was Paul’s prayer for the Thessalonians. He wanted them to know this love from God which he had experienced, therefore he prayed that the Lord would make their love increase. Then he connects this idea of abounding love with holiness in the very next sentence. Somehow abounding with love and being strengthened in holiness are related, for God’s holy love is the spring of true holiness.
The lessons from Paul are many. First we understand that he spends time in prayer for these whom he has led to Christ. The genuine nature of his love for God and others is evident in the way he literally prays in his letter. By his action we should be encouraged to action. Prayer is to be a major focus of our lives. We are to pray for those who need to know Christ, and then continue to pray of those who have come to Christ that they might continue to grow. Holiness, or the sanctified life is God’s desire for all of humanity. We are to participate in God’s holy work by being a people of prayer.
Paul had experienced the holiness of God in his life which was springing from holy love. God took a young man who was intent on persecuting Christians and transformed him by filling him with his Spirit. Now, instead of anger unleashed against those who had come to love Christ, he was “abounding” in that very love. It was as if the windows of heaven were opened and God’s love was poured out over and over and over again, filling Paul and spilling out and splashing on the world. Love of God and love of neighbor were the natural response, not because of Paul’s effort, but because of the presence of the Spirit in his life. The prayer wasn’t just for the Thessalonians, but for you and me too! We are to be filled to overflowing with God’s holy love.
The presence of God’s holy love within us is holiness. Holiness is visible in the ways in which we interact with the world. Holiness is putting others first. Holiness is God’s love that always seeks the best in others and the very best for the entire community. This is how we live when we abound with holy love.
Lord, please fill me today with your holiness. Amen.