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Mar 27, 2022

The Joy of Selfless Love

Passage: 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13

Preacher: Andrew Repsold

Series: 1 Thessalonians

Keywords: love, church, discipline, joy, priorities, selflessness, eternal perspective, affection


Living sacrificially in the love of Jesus is humanly hard at times. So how do we get the joy God wants us to have in loving each other sacrificially week by week? This passage/message has the answer.


1 Thessalonians 3:9-13

Title: The Joy of Selfless Love


Intro: The last time I preached on the first half of chapter 2 and the content was good and bad traits of spiritual leaders:

  1. Good: Boldness to declare the gospel of God amid conflict/persecution. (2:2)
  2. Bad: Incorrect/false teaching, being sexually motivated, deception. (2:3)
  3. Good: Seeking to please God, not men. (2:4)
  4. Bad: Using flattery and pursuing money. (2:5)
  5. Bad: Relating through position/authority instead of familial bonds. (2:6)
  6. Good: Delightfully pouring their life out for others. (2:7-8)

Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well. (NIV)

(A good shepherd (or Christian)… pursues MAXIMAL Joy in life (and death) by giving of their life for the building up of other peoples Faith in God.) 

This means it will not always be a delightful experience but it is the pursuit of greatest joy.

sharing our lives with others for the Joy set before us)

  1. Good: Encouraging and exhorting those around them to walk in a manner worthy of God. (2:12)

READ TODAY’s TEXT:  as we read it, notice how Paul feels towards the Thessalonians.


For what thanksgiving can we return to God for you, for all the joy that we feel for your sake before our God, 10 as we pray most earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith?

11 Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you, 12 and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, 13 so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.

After reading this text, I thought, the Christian venture (walk) is not just difficult, it’s impossible. I do not feel towards all of you like Paul feels towards the Thessalonians.

Read it again noticing the following:

Observations of todays text:

  • Paul has exceeding joy, before God, because of the Thessalonians.

(Is there anyone in your life that when you think of, you feel great joy?)

  • Paul is grateful for this joy and feels his thanksgiving to God is insufficient to express this gratitude.
  • Paul prays at all times (night and day) that he might be able to see them.

Then he prays…

  • He really wants to be with them. He misses them.
  1. ABOUND IN LOVE FOR ONE ANOTHER. like Paul does for the Thessalonians.

so that you will be “holy and blameless”…our sanctification is tied to our loving one another and people outside of Mosaic.

And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.  Philippians 1:9-11

Our love for each other is a measure of our sanctification…our Holiness.

How many of you feel this way towards fellow believers…especially those at Mosaic.

(delight, exceeding gratitude, longing to see and be with, eager to help out and build up their faith-knowledge of Him and trust in Him)

If you are like me…

Your love for others is lacking in comparison to this standard.

But you are not alone. Paul wouldn’t be writing prayers for this kind of thing if it happened automatically.

So we must ask…

HOW DO WE GROW IN AFFECTION FOR EACH OTHER? HOW DO WE GET PAUL’S (CHRIST’S) LOVE FOR OTHERS.  so that we too can say it is a delight to share our lives with each other and pour out our days and energy building each other’s faith up. 

First, we have to be spending time together in order. It is possible you feel you love everyone you come in contact with when in reality you don’t really have any depth to your relationships.

Assuming, we are experiencing one another enough to get annoyed and have difficulty LOVING each other (not just “getting along”) what next…

(look at the two prayers of Paul and highlight the dependency on God to do a work in us).

  1. We go to the source of this Love…God. ASK (pray) him to give you love. Again and again and again…every time you feel unloving towards them (this does not mean you will not still disagree with them and still seek forgiveness or apology from them etc.)

Look at both texts and notice that it is GOD who supplies this love.

  1. Get the correct perspective (God’s perspective) on what is worth spending your life on.

Answer: the building up of other people’s faith in God (their knowledge of him…their intimate relating with him etc.)


-1 Thessalonians 2:17-20

17 But since we were torn away from you, brothers, for a short time, in person not in heart, we endeavored the more eagerly and with great desire to see you face to face, 18 because we wanted to come to you—I, Paul, again and again—but Satan hindered us. 19 For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? 20 For you are our glory and joy.

He has an eternal perspective which situates his priorities in life.

Personal example of how when your priorities (what you think is most important in a given moment) are skewed from reality, you tie your joy and delight and satisfaction in life to the wrong things.

EXAMPLE: Going to Big 5 this week with Nelson and Edmund.

My priority: efficiently buying a pair of running shoes.

Greater Priority: Growing my relationship with my sons and instructing them (teaching them) in the way they should go.

Let’s use an example we all experience as a downtown congregation: people who are mentally unstable (drug use, spiritual oppression or possession, past abuse) disrupting a service down here.

When that happens, I can either get flustered and frustrated that our service is not going exactly as planned or that I’m going to have to cut some of my sermon material or that I’m uncomfortable and therefore annoyed.

Or I can realize that this is an opportunity and reality of having a downtown church. It really is the whole reason we are down here. It is an opportunity to patiently give opportunity for those who have no family to experience community and family-like relationships.  

Paul is saying it is worth it pour his life out for the building up of other peoples faith and sharing the gospel because of his eternal perspective.

How do we get this perspective: continually renew your mind in the truths of God and then put it into practice (Romans 12:1). Live them out…apply them to your lives. Submit your life to the design of God.

One example: a life (one beyond death) of maximal joy involves temporary pain/sadness, sacrifice, difficulty.

(verse: for the joy set before him, Christ endured the cross)

Example: no dessert for a night versus an understanding of authority and telling the truth and deeper relationship and actually enjoying my child.

12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

In the pursuit of Maximal joy, we will have to go through temporary hardship, pain, discipline from God at times.

End with story of my relationship with Mikias and Yohannes.

End with overview of discussion questions.


and growing bondedness and affection with other people



ask God for this perspective and then renew your mind regularly (daily) by reading/memorizing these verses of your highest priority.


  1. Learn about and submit to God’s designs. Hear the word and then do it (James)

-steps for dealing with perceived offenses (Matthew 18)

-how to express your sexuality

-How to submit to church leadership


Story of my transformation with the brothers.  


This is impossible! (apart from a work of God)


Notice how many times he prays and acknowledges it is God who is the source of these things.


Application: Think of someone who is difficult for you to love here (at Mosaic). We are now going to Pray that God will give us love for them.




Household Follow-Up Questions for Devotional Discussions


  • Think of someone who you are having difficulty loving right now. Ask God to give you His love for them. (Do this often)
  • Share an example from your life of a time when skewed priorities resulted in frustration and diminished joy? What should your priority have been in that moment?
  • Can you recall an experience where pain, hardship or discipline resulted in you experiencing greater joy in the future? Conversely, when have you experienced something that was temporarily enjoyable or easy but resulted in diminished joy for you in the future. (pornography, not being disciplined by your parents)
  • Is there current hardship in your life that God may be bringing to you for your growth? What might God be wanting to grow in you through this hardship?


Romans 12:1-2

12 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

James  1

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.