2 Thessalonians 1:3 We ought always to thank God for you, brothers, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing.
Have you ever spent an extended amount of time with people you don’t know all that well? At first it may be awkward, but as you get to know each other it starts to work. You are getting along just fine when out of nowhere – it happens. You start getting annoyed. That one guy keeps double dipping in the vegetable dip. That lady’s laugh is starting to drive you crazy. That mom won’t keep her kids in line. That dude keeps telling the same story over and over. You’ve heard it 27 times already! Can somebody pass the earplugs, please!?
Extended time with people we don’t know that well doesn’t always turn out great. I guess for that matter, neither does time spent with people we do know well. We are all different. Our personalities don’t always mesh; our pace of life doesn’t match up. We have our own needs and others get in the way. So how is it that the Thessalonians had increasing love for one another? They weren’t grating on each other’s nerves, they were growing closer in heart.
That’s what happens when the Holy Spirit begins a work on God’s people. The church is called to be the Body of Christ. There are many parts and they all have a purpose. Their purpose is to work together for the cause of Christ. It is not to serve their own needs. It is to serve one another so that the Body can be functional. That’s what I believe the Thessalonians were doing. As they functioned as the Body of Christ, they began to love one another more and work together with greater effectiveness. The foot realized it needed the eye and the mouth realized it needed the hand.
This, too, is how we should be today as the church. We shouldn’t grow weary of one another or make each other crazy. We should learn to work together for a greater purpose. If we could figure that out, the gospel of Jesus Christ would take the world by storm!
*Do you need to work on loving others?
1 Thessalonians 5:24 The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.
You just got a new job – how exciting! It seems like something you can do, no problem. You got up early this morning, spent your time getting ready, and headed to your new adventure. Upon arrival, you started orientation, then training. By now it is mid-afternoon and the realization just hit you: you have no idea what you are doing. What was I thinking? Why did I think I could do this job? It is way out of my skill level. I am not qualified for this kind of work. I don’t think I can do it. Now what?
Not a great feeling is it? No one likes to be in a situation where we feel under-qualified. If we would have known it was going to require these skills, maybe we wouldn’t have signed up in the first place. And for many people, they don’t sign up, they don’t take the job. Worse yet, they don’t step into the calling that God has placed on their lives. It seems too scary, too out there. They don’t feel prepared, qualified, equipped, or remotely ready. And it keeps them from walking in their calling.
No one likes to start a journey only to feel lost. We don’t like to start a task that we aren’t sure we can complete. Here’s the thing: The one who calls you is faithful and HE will do it! It’s not all up to you. He is the caller and the equipper. Listen, if He called you to it, He will get you through it. You may not have what it takes, but He does. He is faithful! So don’t shy away from what He is calling you to. Don’t be afraid that you won’t be able to do it. Take a step of faith today and find out how faithful your God is!
*Has fear of being unqualified kept you from walking in your calling?
1 Thessalonians 4:7-8 For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit.
Remember getting grounded as a teen? Unless you were perfect (not likely), you can probably remember the agony of losing privileges. It is way easier to ground teens today. They have phones, iPods, tablets, TVs, and all kinds of other stuff like that. Take it away and they are left with the miserable existence that is actual human interaction, using an imagination, and enjoying their surroundings. Yes, those powered devices are quite the thing. A teen grounded from them can’t imagine living without them. How will I live without all these powered devices at my immediate disposal?
Here’s the thing: if you want the power, you have to obey Dad. You have to live by his rules. When we are young, we go through times where mom and dad’s rules seem impossible to follow. It’s just not fair! We would be better off living on our own. Then we remember that with parents comes food, clothing, housing, and powered devices. If we really think it through, doing it their way is worth it. If we are in our right mind, we realize that the benefits of living by their standard is worth it!
God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life! And when we reject that holy life, we reject Dad, who gives us the power. It’s like we are grounded, but we are the ones who put ourselves in time-out. We wonder why God seems so distant. We can’t figure out why we can’t hear from Him. We are frustrated that our life seems to be powerless. And it’s all because we have rejected the giver of the power. If we want it back, we need to live by the house rules. We are called to resist what is impure and live a holy life. We are to live set apart for our God!
*Are you striving to live a holy life?
1 Thessalonians 3:5-6 For this reason, when I could stand it no longer, I sent to find out about your faith. I was afraid that in some way the tempter might have tempted you and our efforts might have been useless. But Timothy has just now come to us from you and has brought good news about your faith and love. He has told us that you always have pleasant memories of us and that you long to see us, just as we also long to see you.
Paul was paranoid. Paul was pessimistic. Paul was planning for the worst. It seems to me like Paul needed Facebook. He was totally disconnected from these people and that absence caused him to worry. His lack of information made him think that maybe something was wrong, that they had stopped living for Jesus. If only he was able to see their status updates. If only he could have seen their photo album titled, “baptisms.” It seems like being an apostle would be way more convenient these days.
This is what happens with silence. We are left to make assumptions. Sometimes we make good assumptions, but other times we make bad ones. Often, our assumptions leave us feeling like something is going terribly wrong. Maybe we had a conversation with someone that didn’t go too well. Then two weeks goes by and we don’t talk to them again. We begin to think they are mad at us. We think they have talked poorly of us all over town. We might even start to think that our whole lives are going to fall apart. Paranoia, I tell you. And it’s mostly due to silence.
Which is why we need to do a better job of finding out information before making assumptions. If you are wondering if someone is mad at you, call them. If you think that someone isn’t doing well, try to find out the truth. Letting our uninformed thoughts determine our peace is pure craziness! Don’t let that happen to you. Instead, seek the truth. Send a Timothy like Paul did. Shoot, check Facebook. You might find that all of your worry is for nothing.
*Are you worried about something that you don’t have good information about?
1 Thessalonians 2:4 On the contrary, we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts.
Remember being a kid and doing everything you could to impress others. “Mom, mom, mom, mom. Mom, watch this. Mom, are you looking? Mooooooooom. Look at me. Mooooooooooom! Are you watching?” Many of you have heard those words and as children, you probably said them. We tried to impress our friends too. If they could do something then we were going to do it to. We wanted to be picked first for the team and invited to all the birthday parties. We just wanted to be accepted. We wanted someone to approve.
“I approve.” Those are words we all want to hear. We want to be accepted, liked, maybe even loved. We want to know that others think highly of us and want to be around us. But there’s an approval trap that we need to break free from. For if we are so desperate for approval from man, we will spend our lives trying to measure up. We will spend our lives serving people rather than serving God. That’s no good, friends!
When we live our lives trying to gain approval from people, we inevitably compromise what God has called us to. We waste hours trying fit in rather than being who He made us to be. We spin our wheels on tasks rather than on our calling. Break free today! Ask God to break this approval trap from your life. Live each day as someone who is approved by God.
*Does your need for approval hold you back?
1 Thessalonians 1:7-8 And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia—your faith in God has become known everywhere.
I didn’t realize the Bible talked about modeling. These must have been some good looking Christians. We are talking supermodels! They hit the runway in both Macedonia and Achaia. They probably wore designer jeans and expensive makeup. They were attending modeling school regularly and getting their hair done all nice. Oh, wait… not that kind of model? My bad. So what kind of model was Paul talking about?
Paul wrote to the Thessalonians that they had become models to other believers. Their conduct, their character, their worship, and their love was worth emulating. In fact, they were such great witnesses of Jesus, that their faith became known everywhere. All of the surrounding cities were talking about them. News spread throughout the region that these guys were the real deal. Their faith was real and attractive; their words rang loud and their actions rang louder. So they became famous. And in their fame they were making the work of Jesus Christ famous. That’s the kind of models they were.
I wonder sometimes how well we are doing at showing off the gospel. It’s likely that we don’t feel like Jesus supermodels that show off who He is. Think about it, what does a model show off? Clothes. (That is, if they are wearing any.) We are to be clothed with Christ and model Him for the world. We are called to live for His glory and His fame. I wonder how that’s going for us. Do we need to attend modeling school more regularly? Could it be said of us that we are Jesus models like the Thessalonians were?
*I bet models look in the mirror a lot. When you look in the mirror what do you see? Is there a reflection of Jesus looking back at you?