“I want to know what love is. I want you to show me.” So goes some of the lyrics in the 1984 hit by the band Foreigner. Showing and demonstrating to the world what genuine godly love looks like was one of the founding principles taught by the Lord Jesus and his disciples in the first century church. One way godly love was demonstrated at that time was by being honest and open about sin and the need to repent of it for the sake of embracing God’s holiness that accompanied salvation by grace.
That type of love was shown for the purpose of churning up holiness so that holiness could then churn up more love for God and for other people. Love and holiness were fuel for each other to strengthen the saints and the church. Speaking the truth in love against sin for the sake of holiness faced tidal waves of opposition from wicked men, but saints back then knew the gospel message of salvation with love and holiness had to continue despite the opposition, to save as many lost souls as possible.
This is why Paul told the Thessalonians, “For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake,” 1 Thessalonians 1:5. They showed the Thessalonians the power of godly love in the Holy Ghost by how they lived their lives in holiness. As such their goal was to please God, not men, and to share their message without any selfish ulterior motives (1 Thessalonians 2:5-8). Since they abounded in that godly love and abounded in holiness, it bore fruit at Thessalonica with many souls being saved in spite of a riotous mob stirred up by envious unbelievers (Acts 17:1-5).
Having demonstrated the blessings that come from abounding in love for God and man and abounding in holiness among the apostles, Paul then urged the Thessalonians to do the same thing when he stated:
And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you:
To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.
Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more.
1 Thessalonians 3:12 –4:1
Much of the church has lost track of these principles and goals, but we as individuals don’t have to let that be the case with us personally. I pray we will listen to the promptings of the Holy Ghost to walk with God how we ought to so our love for other saints, toward all men, and for God will be shown. May we truly be unblameable at the Lord’s return.