And may the Lord make your love for one another and for all people grow and overflow, just as our love for you overflows.1 Thessalonians 3:12
At our ATLAS Mentor Workshops, we spend a fair amount of time talking about what motivates us to make disciples through mentoring relationships. If we’re firmly rooted in the “why” of making disciples, then it will keep the methods of our “how” more focused on Christ instead of ourselves.
We ask those who attend the workshops to think about what spurred them to want to attend a workshop on mentoring in the first place. As we wrestle with our individual motives, we also explore some motives from Scripture, such as love, obedience, worship, and relationships.
While each of these motives is important as we make disciples, the greatest of these is love.
My Cup Overflows
Christ’s love is an overflowing love. We can drink of it as much as we want and it will never run dry.
Just as a spring thaw can overflow a river out of its banks, God’s deep love for us in Christ Jesus should overflow the banks of our lives and touch the lives of those around us.
Jesus’s love for us is certainly an example for us to follow. But it’s more than that. His love for us is power for us to love others. “We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19).
Christ’s love in our lives will move us to love others. Loving others will mean discipling them, “teaching them to obey all that [Christ] has commanded you.” (Matt 28:20)
An overflowing, cascading love was the prayer of the Apostle Paul, Silvanus and Timothy for the church at Thessalonica. 1 Thessalonians 3:12 says, “And may the Lord make your love for one another and for all people grow and overflow, just as our love for you overflows.” (NLT)
Love overflowed from Jesus to Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy. Jesus’s love then overflowed from Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy to the Thessalonians. And now Paul and his co-laborers prayed that the love of God would likewise overflow from the hearts of the Thessalonian Christians into love for each other and even for all people.
Jesus to Paul. Paul to the Thessalonians. Jesus to the Thessalonians. Thessalonians to others.
Christ’s love overflowing and cascading.
And how did the love of Christ overflow and cascade through Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy to the Thessalonians? By sharing the gospel as they shared their lives. Paul wrote, “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.” (1 Thes 1:8)
Furthermore, Paul equates this overflowing love for the Thessalonians as a father loving his children. “For you know how, like a father with his children, 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.” (1 Thes 1:11-12)
So the overflowing love of Christ moved Paul and others to share the gospel, share themselves, exhort them, encourage them, and charge them to walk in a manner worthy of God. This is a great picture of making disciples.
The overflowing love of Christ led Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy to disciple the Thessalonians.
Harnessing The Overflow
At ATLAS, our approach to making disciples is through one-to-one mentoring relationships. Like a wind turbine harnessing the wind to generate electricity, Christian mentoring harnesses the overflow of God’s love in our lives and directs it toward the life of another person.
I pray the love of Christ overflows mightily in your life. And may you harness and direct that overflow into discipling relationships for the glory of God.