We have already previously established the general principle from this text: Living to please God! (4:1)
We noted that the basis for Paul’s appeal is the command of Christ: He urges them in the Lord Jesus! (4:1) – and again in 4:2 “For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus." And in 4:3: “This is the will of God , your sanctification , that …”
The goal of this exhortation is our sanctification. Paul says: “This is the will of God, your sanctification.” (4:3) Sanctification is the process by which the believer is brought to greater spiritual maturity and Christ-likeness in the course of their entire life. This process begins at conversion. The old sin habits are increasingly done away with and replaced with new ways by which we please God, and so it is possible to please God ‘more and more’. The agent of change, who helps us in this regard is the Holy Spirit (4:8)
Sanctification is a practical thing. To remain victorious over sin, we must cooperate with the Spirit in His work of purifying our souls. We must purify ourselves (2 Cor. 7:1). It is a part of a living response to our claim that we have believed and trusted in Jesus Christ . It seems that some people just want to hear new truth, and they think that accumulating knowledge is equivalent to spiritual growth . Certainly, God wants us to grow in the knowledge of His Word, but we need to translate what we believe into practice. Otherwise we are going to be like those in 2 Tim 3:6, 7 who are “burdened with sins and led away by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at knowledge of the truth.”
Two areas in which we need to grow in order that we may please God more and more:
Although there are many aspects in which we need to be sanctified, Paul, for reasons unstated in the text, specifically addresses the matters of :
(i) Sexuality (4:3-8)
(ii) brotherly love (4:9-12),
...as the special focus and proof of God’s transforming work in the lives of the Thessalonian Christians, and therefore by way of application also in our lives. We receive these two exhortations to grow in our sanctification as God’s specific instruction for us at this time. These are two areas in which the Christian church should be setting a clear example for our contemporary society.
We have already considered the matter of ‘sanctified sexuality’ last week , and so we are now ready to consider …
(ii) Pleasing God through a sanctified brotherly love
The transition from sexual purity to brotherly love is a natural one. Sexual sins almost always involve someone else. Sexual sins usually involve the exploitation and abuse of another person for selfish reasons. So then, in this area we are also called to act with brotherly love and purity to one another.
The word translated here as “brotherly love” is the Greek word ‘philadelphos’ (phileo & adelphos). This reminds us that we are united in the household of God (the church) as brothers and sisters. We are reminded that in this household there ought to be a warmth and concern for each other because of our family relationship in Christ.
We observe that the Thessalonian Christians were excelling in this area. Paul says “…you have no need …, for you have been taught by God to love one another.” Is Paul saying here that they do not need further biblical instruction on loving one another? Obviously not, because the NT has so much to say on this subject and the church is often so poor at loving one another. But, let’s face it – there are Christians and there are churches that possess more grace in this area. The Thessalonians were displaying one of the most essential badges of Christian discipleship, Love for the brothers , and the Lord Jesus Himself said to His disciples, “by this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another”. (Jn. 13:35)
They had been showing love toward all the brothers , but even such a ‘perfect’ display of love needs continued encouragement to do still more. And there are many surprising and unexpected ways in which we may yet have to learn how to do this!
Consider now how Paul counsels us to consider loving our brothers more in vv. 11 & 12. These verses are linked to the preceding section by the conjunction “and”. So, these two verses are actually an application to what Paul has been saying concerning the need to “do this more and more “.
Three areas in which your love for your brothers and sisters may become more sanctified in the church: (vv. 11,12)
1. Aspire to live quietly
2. Mind your own affairs
3. Work with your hands.
Nothing disrupts the peace of a church more than having a bunch of busybodies or members who are unwilling to be responsible for their own upkeep . So it is important for us to note that our daily habits of living, and the way we conduct our own business, can manifest a real sense of Christian love. Love touches our lives in many ways which we often fail to recognize. Undisciplined living on the part of some in the church very often causes pain to others in the church. It disturbs the peace of the body of Christ. So, in terms of allowing the sanctifying power of God to work in improving our love life we are called to …
1. Aspire to live quietly:
“ live quietly”… The word used here  refers to a tranquility arising from within, causing no disturbance to others.  Christians who claim to be at peace with God should not be ‘noisy’ or ‘frantic’ people . There should be a restfulness, a peace, and a serenity that governs the life of a Christian, simply because Christ is at the center. He is in control of our activity. Sometimes one gets quite dizzy when one sees the restless speed at which some Christians live. We can get ourselves exhausted by a restless spirit, and others can exhaust us by their restless spirit . A person who is constantly on the move is not only distracted from his/her own walk with God, but he/she can be a distraction to his/her brother/sister. A poised, serene Christian at peace with himself and God is a source of peace to his brothers and sisters. Such quietness, according to Paul constitutes a practical demonstration of love for others. Have you ever thought about that?
It is highly likely that there were such restless people within the Thessalonian church. The whole matter of the thought of the imminent return of Christ for instance (2 Thess. 2:1-3), appeared to have introduced a speculative and unsettling element into the church. People were getting frantic and restless about the return of Christ, and instead of simply resting in Him whether He would return now or in 2000 years, they allowed this great fact to have an adverse effect. It appears as if this was causing people to become idle , saying something like, ”… since Christ might come very soon, what point is there in working hard?“ The problem with idleness is that it doesn’t make you idle. It makes you an irritating busybody. See what Paul writes concerning those who are idle in the second letter to the Thessalonians (2 Thess. 3:6-12- particularly verse 11 ! ). So it is possible that some of the believers at Thessalonica had evidently stopped working and were instead going about from house to house being idle busybodies. One practical way then to love one another is to have a quiet , peaceful spirit!
2. Mind your own affairs:
One of the solutions for restlessness is to mind your own business, and to start looking critically at yourself. Jesus says, “Stop finding splinters in the eyes of your brothers, when you have planks in your own eyes”. People that have nothing else to do than making it their business to observe the business of others and constantly finding fault with them are easily tempted to become engaged in unsanctified behaviour towards their brothers and sisters . So Paul offers excellent advice here : “mind your own affairs !” Make it your priority to get busy with your own life, and when you are busy with that , you will have enough on your own plate so that you won’t be tempted to develop this critical spirit that tests our sanctification .
There is thus a sense in which our first priority is to take care of our own lives, not in a self-centered way, but in a truly biblical way. We must however balance this with our responsibility to be involved with, and caring for others. Unfortunately our tendency is to easily go from one extreme to another - either being too nosy or to the other extreme— to cut ourselves off and isolate ourselves from others. The point is that we must learn to love our brothers by minding our own business , and to support them with our Christian love wherever it is necessary .
3. Work with your own hands:
While we all have a responsibility to help those in real need, we also have a responsibility not to help them when they refuse to work or to look for a job. Part of the help that such people need is to admonish them , and to counsel them and help them to find work. They must understand that God wants them to be self-supporting and productive in society rather than dependent on society.
There is a twofold concern expressed in v. 12 in relation to this loving concern for the brothers and sisters .
a. their testimony to outsiders: The unbelieving world is watching and we should always be concerned that our lives do not bring shame upon the Name of Christ. The world outside continually criticizes the church for her “noisy Christians ” , and her “busybodies” , and for accommodating those that are lazy without ever disciplining them .
b. being dependent on no one: God intends each one to work to meet their own needs and to be a burden to no one. This can be amply illustrated from Scripture. It obviously excludes those who are genuinely unable to work. We need to see work as a blessing. It must be promoted by the Christian community. Work is not a curse. It is a way to use the gifts and talents God gives us in productive ways. And we as a church should encourage one another to be busy with work.
Also remember that as the Creator and Sustainer of the universe, God is a worker.
1. The exhibition of brotherly love is an essential mark of a biblical church (Jn. 13:35)
2. We need to continuously improve in this area
3. And especially we must learn to love our church by being quiet people who are not in the habit of upsetting everyone ; we must avoid being busybodies ; we must make our own living, and not depend on the church to continually help us when we are continuously in and out of jobs ; when we are unteachable ; when we have lavish lifestyles and poor budgeting habits .