Love in Action: 1 Thessalonians 2:5-12

Good morning, Church.

How are you all doing today?

At a time when the world is crippled with fear and every conversation when people meet is about the corona-virus, isn’t it wonderful to see God’s people gather together in love – to worship God and to fellowship with one another.

It’s good to re-iterate what Saju has been reminding us on the group that we have a Sovereign God and nothing surprises Him. Rather, God has allowed the situations that we are in – to show forth His glory and His mercy.

Church, I wish to remind you of an incident in the Bible in which Jesus and His disciples get on a boat to cross over from one place to another. Jesus makes Himself comfortable by taking a pillow and going for a good sleep.

Co-incidently, there is a great storm and the boat is about to give in. The disciples were fretting for their lives. In their desperation, they cried out to the Lord (who was apparently sleeping through all this). He got up and silenced the storm and looked at the disciples and said in Mark 4:40, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” Beloved, in times like these, fear is common to find all around us – including our own hearts.

But fear does show a lack of faith – lack of faith in an-all sovereign God – right in the midst of our situations. When the world goes through fear and despair – let us the people of God – stand boldly without fear – showing forth the love of Christ through our responses – even with one another, in the family of God.

To be honest, I went through the motions of fear in the last week but a reminder of the hope that a Christian has lifted my spirit. Let us encourage one another and build each other up – in love. Because “Perfect love casts out fear.” “I am no longer a slave to fear – I am a child of God.” But love is also careful and responsible.

 Our elders and few brothers were travelling last week and they decided to skip today’s service – in love – so that none of us would panic. Let us keep them and their families in prayer. Let us turn to our passage for today –

1 Thessalonians 2:5-12

5 For we never came with words of flattery,[b] as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness. 

6 Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others, though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ. 

7 But we were gentle[c] among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. 

8 So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.

9 For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. 

10 You are witnesses, and God also, how holy and righteous and blameless was our conduct toward you believers. 

11 For you know how, like a father with his children, 

12 we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.


We had talked about “Passion for the Gospel” last Sunday and as I meditated on the text for today – I realized – Paul was talking about the major reason behind his passion. His passion and craziness was fueled by something so great that He could boldly stand for the Gospel in the midst of conflict. And what was that? “Love”!

So, I would like to title my sermon today as “Love in action” and it is my prayer this morning that we may be stirred up by the Love of God and love for our brothers and sisters in Christ.

In these last days, the Bible says that the love of many will grow cold. In an age of social media and television and lust – the word ‘love’ has lost its purity and depth.

Covenant relationship in marriage has been substituted for just an agreement paper. Family love has been substituted for whatsapp groups.

Brotherly love in churches have been substituted for a ‘hi and bye’ relationship. Inspite of all that – isn’t it wonderful that God has a remnant which still builds their relationships on “Die together and live together”.

Isn’t it a wonder that the Gospel still binds broken hearts and wounded relationships? Don’t we keep seeing the love of God displayed in the lives of His children in difficult times as this?

Beloved, I wish to bring your attention this morning to this agape love which is pure, willful and sacrificial – given to us freely through the Gospel. What is this love that goes the second mile?

This passage gives a small glimpse of the love displayed in the lives of Paul and his friends. As we begin, let us first understand what agape love is not.. and then we go on to understand what it really is..

What agape love is not?

  • Agape love is not in speaking words of flattery (vs 5)

Paul and his fellow workers showed not their love to the Thessalonians by speaking flattering words as he mentions in verse 5 – “For we never came with words of flattery”.

‘Love’ in today’s age means to flatter someone and gain something in return.

Doesn’t that happen when we flatter our bosses to gain a good bonus or a promotion in return? Doesn’t that happen when we try to flatter our friends for some favour in return? Don’t we flatter people sometimes to get them to church? Don’t we flatter our pastors and brothers and sisters sometimes to gain a good standing before them? Don’t we flatter our brethren sometimes when we know that what they do is a sin?

The human nature loves to be flattered but that is not love. Imagine a doctor examining you and flattering you that you have a normal flu when you could be having corona virus. That’s making your case even worser for you and others around you.

Paul and the apostles did not use flattering speech while planting the church nor while discipling them. They did not flatter them with a good opinion of themselves: they did not preach that they were good people who just needed Jesus to go to heaven. No! but they were blunt in saying that they were sinners in a desperate need of a Saviour.

Nor did they flatter them by talking about the power of their self-will but they declared just the reverse: they were weak, impotent and strengthless and couldn’t think even a single good thought if not for the Grace and power of God – who works in them both to will and to do.

They also did not flatter them when they were enjoying their sin and being friends of the World. When a man from the Corinthian church was caught in adultery, Paul wrote to them to count him as an unbeliever and deliver him into the hands of Satan – Why? Why didn’t he flatter them?

Because he loved them!

Love does not flatter but looks at their eternal welfare and speaks the truth in love. That does not mean we always find faults and sins in our brethren. Rather love covers a multitude of sins. It does not keep an account of evil but is lavish in forgiving others.

But when we do see someone going in a direction towards hell, let us take care not to flatter them but show them their sin through the Gospel and point them to a Saviour who loves them unconditionally and died for them.

Going on to my next point. –

– Agape love is not greedy (vs 5)

Paul and his friends did not preach the Gospel out of greed or covetousness as said in verse 5.. “nor with a pretext for greed – God is my witness.” He calls upon God as His witness when he says that yes – we loved you – but we had no desire for money or position.

They trusted in an all-providing God for their needs and went all out for the Thessalonians in love. A love which expects nothing in return? That’s agape love. When Paul was old, he advises an younger elder – Timothy that “The love of money is the root of all evil” (1 Tim 6:10). He also adds, “Godliness with contentment is great gain”. (1 Tim 6:6).

Beloved, I know God is calling many from amongst us – from the Gathering community – to show forth the love of Christ to our fellow brothers and sisters sitting next to us – to the community of broken people in our neighbourhood and colleges and offices.

But when you do that, remember that your God is an all-sufficient God and He takes care of all your needs and you need not look at any man for anything in return for the Gospel. Freely you have received, freely give! The love that the Gospel pours into our hearts does not look for monetary gain or riches or gifts from people.

Also, our expectations when we come to Jesus is not for riches or money or prosperity. God has promised to supply all our needs but not all our greeds. This attitude should not be just amongst our church members but also in our own respective families.

Many of us come from families who do not know Jesus and they by nature have money as their God. But what is our Christian response? I serve Jehovah Jireh – God is my provider. I need not act like the gentiles but show forth Agape love – which does not run after money.

Have God as your witness this morning – there may be failures – but let us draw near to God confessing our greed to Him and ask Him to fill us with a love which is selfless.

  • Agape love seeks not for glory from people (vs 6)

Paul goes on to say in verse 6 that he did not seek glory from people. That convicts me. I would be wrong to say that I do not seek glory from people. People must say nice things about me. “Isn’t he a great guy?”, “Doesn’t he have a great zeal for God?”,

Beloved, most of us want God to do His work indeed but we also wish that if He does work, It must be only through us. Like the mother of James and John, we wish that we get to sit at the right hand and the left hand of Jesus – when He is glorified. That is not agape love.

Agape love seeks the Glory of God even if I am abased and crushed in the process. Agape love seeks God’s Glory in the salvation of sinners and in the sanctification of the saints. I do not love you in order to gain your approval – I love you because I am already approved and beloved in His Son – Jesus Christ.

I am passionate to preach the Gospel and live the Gospel because I live in the presence of an all-knowing God who knows my sitting down and my rising up and my thoughts afar off. I must hurry on, brethren.

  • Agape love doesn’t make demands and burden others (vs 6 & 9)

I will not spend much time in this point but I must say that Paul and the apostles worked very hard for their bread and butter in-spite of their commitment to the Gospel. Living out the Gospel in our lives does not make us lazy men.

“God is our provider – so let us sleep?” “God cares for me – so, I need not look after my family?” That’s not agape love, brethren. In verse 6, Paul says, I could have made demands as an apostle but I did not.

In verse 9, He says – “you remember our toil – we worked night and day” – that we might not be a burden to any of you. Beloved, we as children of God – with agape love – need to bear one another’s burdens but we are not called to be a burden to one another.

Paul in another place writes – “If a man will not work, let him not eat.” Don’t we get sometimes very demanding with our brothers and sisters? Am I not his brother? Shouldn’t he take care of me? Rather, you are called to take care of him without expecting it in return. Agape love is not demanding but giving!

Ok, so we saw what Agape love is not. But what then is Agape love:

Agape love is –

  • Affectionate and gentle as a nursing mother

Let me read to you something written by Max Lucado:

Moms, I have a question: Why do you love your newborn? I know, I know, it’s a silly question.. (but still) Why do you?

For months this baby has brought you pain. She (or he) made you break out in pimples and waddle like a duck. Because of her you craved sardines (wada pavs) and crackers (chocolates) and threw up in the morning. She punched you in the tummy.

She occupied space that wasn’t hers and ate food she didn’t fix.

You kept her warm. You kept her safe. You kept her fed. But did she say thank you?

Are you kidding?

She’s no more out of the womb than she starts to cry! The room is too cold, the blanket is too rough, the nurse (papa) is too mean. And who does she want? Mom.

She didn’t even tell you she was coming. She just came. And what a coming!

She rendered you a barbarian. You screamed. You swore. You bite bullets and tore the sheets. And now look at you. Your back aches. Your head pounds. Your body is drenched in sweat.

Every muscle strained and stretched. You should be angry, but are you?

Far from it. On your face is a for-longer-than-forever love. She has done nothing for you, yet all you can talk about are her good looks and bright future. She’s going to wake you up every night for the next six weeks, but that doesn’t matter. I can see it on your face. You’re crazy about her.


I sometimes watch Abiah nursing our son, Nathan day and night – without much sleep – tired, exhausted, weary – but still so affectionate and so gentle with him – and I see a small glimpse of agape love there.

Look at how Paul describes his love for the Thessalonians – “You had become so dear to us. We were gentle among you like a nursing mother. We were so affectionately desirous of you. We were ready to share with you – not just the Gospel – but ourselves.” T

hat’s agape love. Loving God’s children as a nursing mother loves her own children. Oh that God would pour into our hearts such love for one another – for each other’s spiritual welfare. Oh that we would be gentle and patient with one another – forgive each other just as God in Christ forgave us.

Is there something that you have against your brother or sister this morning? Make sure you forgive him/her and show some love to that person before you leave. Oh God, pour out heavenly love into our hearts! Love that cares for others. Love that goes a second mile for others.

Love that covers a multitude of sins. Love that is ready to give ourselves for others. Is that possible? I leave that for you to ponder. Let me go on… a mother’s love is great but a father’s love is equally important too.

  • A strong pillar of encouragement and role-model as a loving Father

Fathers have a huge role in a child’s life which the world fails to adore and admire. With all his failures as a human being, a father is a child’s strength and role-model. A bad father leaves behind a broken home and a forever distorted child – unless the child experiences God’s love.

Paul says, “Like a father, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God.” He also adds, “How holy and righteous and blameless we were amongst you”.

Is there a role that God is calling you to play, dear brother, dear sister – similar to a loving Father – who exhorts others and encourages others and charges others to live in a manner worthy of God. When you lift up a fallen brother, when you correct a brother’s sin in love, when you go out during the week to your brother’s house and ask him how he is faring – you show forth Fatherly love.

When we live out the Gospel as a role-model to our brothers and sisters, we show forth love as a father to those around us. Beloved, God is calling us to live lives like an open book – not a compartmentalized life. A holy life in church and a sinner elsewhere – sets forth a standard of hypocrisy and double-standard to the world around us.

This is not a father that a child looks for – says something but practices something else. Let me be honest and vulnerable here – I have failed in many areas to have a heart like a loving father but I pray that God would instill in me and in all of us – such a heart of love – which stands up as pillars of encouragement and role-models in this generation – in this city – those who will point many to the Father – the Holy God – the loving Father but as we see agape love being displayed in the roles of a mother and a father, it would be incomplete for me to end this sermon without pointing you to the only perfect Agape love displayed till date until now.

  • A love which can be seen perfectly only in the Gospel

The man – Paul – with all his love and affections and holiness – still would go on to say that amongst all the apostles – he was the least of them and so, when we would look for a perfect example of Agape love – you wouldn’t find it anywhere else except on the cross – in the Gospel – where God so loved you and me that He would give His only Begotten Son for you and me – wretched sinners and imperfect lovers!

If you admit that agape love is not what you display many a times – you have good company – you need the Gospel as much as any of us would do. God –

I have a question – Why do you love us so? Why do you tolerate us? Only heaven knows how much pain we’ve brought you. How we kicked against you and rejected you. How we disobeyed you. How we mistreated the bodies you gave us. We ignored the Word you sent us. And we killed the Son you sent us.

 Ashamed I hear my mocking voice call out among the scoffers. You have every reason to abandon us. But here comes an answer from God – Yes. Yes. A thousand times yes. I have a million reasons to abandon you. But I HAVE LOVED YOU WITH AN EVERLASTING LOVE! I am Agape Love! My love does not change based on your actions – My love is much much greater than a mother’s love – “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I WILL NOT FORGET YOU!”

Is there someone out here who hasn’t experienced that love until now – I plead with you right now by faith to look unto Him that was pierced on the cross for you – Jesus Christ – He loves you! He loves you! He loves you!

There is no greater love than this – that a man lay down His life for his friends! And HE did! As we close, I want you to meditate on this never-ending agape love which loved His elect from before the foundation of the World!

As we respond by taking the Lord Supper, if you haven’t experienced the love of God in your life, we ask you to let it pass by and you can reach out to us after this service and we will be willing to help you.

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