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TO CHEW ON: "And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you, so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints." 1 Thessalonians 3:12,13
Sometimes I have a little trouble sorting out exactly what Paul is saying in his maze-like and run on sentences. But after puzzling the long sentence in our focus verses, I'm hearing him say that he wants the Thessalonians to abound in [have plenty of, be rich in] love toward each other and the world beyond the church walls. He wants them to be as rich in love toward others as he (Paul) is rich in love toward them.
The result of pursuing such love will be that God establishes their hearts "blameless in holiness"—something that will be completed, however, only at the coming of the Lord Jesus.
As we continue to focus on the theme of Christ's second coming through 1 Thessalonians, these verses give us more insights about that anticipated event. They tell us:
- the love we cultivate toward each other is preparation for Christ's return.
- this process of making love abound in us and establishing us blameless in holiness—we call it sanctification— is "brought to glorious completion at the Second Coming of the Lord" - Reformation Study Bible.
The truth of God completing the work of sanctification in us at His return is repeated many times in the Bible: 1 Thessalonians 5:23; 1 Corinthians 1:8; Philippians 1:6; 2 Thessalonians 3:3; Jude 24.
What a relief, that God makes provision to complete this process. My Bible's explanation of the world "holiness" here gives us an idea of what a deep-clean it is and will be:
["Holiness - hagiosune - is the principle that separates the believer from the world…. It causes every component of our character to stand God's inspection and meet His approval" - Dick Mills, "Word Wealth," New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 1686, emphasis added.]
PRAYER: Dear God, thank You that my lifelong pursuit of holiness and blamelessness will be divinely completed at Jesus' return. Amen.
MORE: First Sunday of Advent
Today the church celebrates the first Sunday of Advent. The day's liturgy begins with the following Collect:
Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.