“Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved.”
Today’s verse passage begins with the word “therefore.” This is our cue to consider what precedes it in order to determine our passage’s context. The last portion of chapter three was a reminder to Christians to stand strong and not to follow the dictates of the world. The spirit of the age moves the bulk of humanity to live according to the desires of the flesh. These are the enemies of the cross of Christ (3:18-19). Faithful Christians choose to operate very differently. While much of the world, particularly the western world, is comfort and pleasure driven, we pursue righteousness and holiness, without which no one will see God (Hebrews 12:14). While the bulk of humanity strives to make their life on earth as comfortable and pleasurable as possible, we choose to live crucified lives. We glory in the cross of Christ, by whom the world is crucified to us and we to the world (Galatians 6:14). Striving against sin, we take up our cross daily, crucifying our flesh with its sinful desires (Galatians 5:24). Knowing that earth is not our home, we see no reason to pursue comfort and worldly success as chief goals. We are aliens and pilgrims here (1 Peter 2:11). We are ambassadors for Christ serving our Lord on what is often hostile, enemy territory (2 Corinthians 5:20). Nevertheless, we function with courage and determination, knowing that our citizenship is in heaven. With grateful hearts, we turn from worldly idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10). “I will come again,” promised our Lord, “and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:3). Paul reminds us that when our Lord comes for us, He will transform our lowly bodes, fashioning them like His own glorified body. All of this was made possible through the redemptive work of Jesus. We are moved to ask along with the psalmist, “what is man, that Thou art mindful of him; and the son of man, that thou visitest him?” (Psalm 8:3). Amazingly, love was the motivator. “In this was manifested the love of God toward us,” wrote John, “because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:9-10). Three times in this epistle, Paul refers to his Christian readers as “beloved;” he used the term twice in today’s verse. Paul’s love for the saints, we must believe, was derivative; it was imparted by God in Whom this amazing love was original. Man, after all, can hardly be more benevolent than God! Let us therefore demonstrate our love for the Lord that loved us first (1 John 4:19) by standing fast in our faith and encouraging fellow heirs of the Kingdom to do likewise.
God bless you,