Paul had left Timothy in Ephesus to continue teaching and mentoring the new converts there. Paul did not want the new converts to be swayed by those who taught false doctrines. These were the people who based their standing on religious traditions and their heritage. As Paul tells Timothy, we are to edify one another in our new faith. We do this by showing love, and having a pure heart that keeps us from straying from our belief in Jesus Christ. People desire to be teachers when they have a need for instruction themselves. They become jealous of new leaders and try to sway people from the truth with their false doctrines. Be sure to check everything that you are taught and be sure it aligns with Scripture. Test every spirit to be sure it is coming from God and not satan.
Paul warns the new converts about idle minds and idle hands. We should show others the love of Jesus Christ by being a good example to them. Paul worked as a tentmaker to buy his own food. He admonishes us to always be a help and not a burden to those around us. We should encourage each other in doing good deeds and helping unbelievers. If there are those among us who are unable to work either permanently or temporarily, we need to help provide their needs. Jesus tells us that when we do this for others here on earth, it is the same as doing it for Him. We should always be working for our Lord and Savior. James tells us:
17 Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.-James 4:17 (NKJV)
When we see a need, we need to meet that need to the best of our ability. Doing good works here on earth is how we lay up rewards in heaven.
None of us have reached perfection and we won’t as long as we inhabit these tents of flesh. Therefore, we need the prayers of our Christian brothers and sisters just as they need us to pray for them. We need Spiritual and physical strength to carry on God’s Kingdom work here on earth. “The harvest is great, but the workers are few” so we need to pray and ask God to send laborers into the fields.(Matt 9:37,38 paraphrased). We need to ask God to guard our thoughts because the mind is the spiritual battlefield where our personal battles are won or lost. The Lord is faithful. He has promised that we will not be tempted above our ability to resist and that He will always provide a way out for us. We don’t always find the way out because the flesh gets great pleasure from wallowing in its old sinful ways. We need to pray for each other that we will continue to do the things that God has commanded us to do. When we practice doing the right things, we receive more understanding and patience which allows us to better show sinners the greatness of God’s love toward us and them.
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
Most Christians in the Western World have not experienced the kind of persecution to which Paul is referring. Probably the worst persecution that we receive is losing (temporarily, hopefully) the friendship of someone close to us because of our belief in the death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Here, Paul is talking about those early Christians who gave their lives for the Gospel. I would guess that most of us have wondered, at some time or other, how far we would go for the Gospel. Would I really lay down my life for Jesus? Paul tells us that we should consider our physical bodies as dead already.
3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.– Col. 3:3 NKJV
Since this is true, we should consider our physical bodies already dead. But our Spirit will always be alive because of what Jesus did for us at Calvary. So, if we are attempting to live the lifestyle that Jesus wants us to, isn’t the decision already made? We agreed to die with Christ and mortify (put to death) our fleshly desires so that we will be raised with Christ in our new immortal bodies. It is all about faith and trust. Will God do what He said or not? The answer is “Yes, of course, He will.” In His mercy, He will protect and perfect us and in His justice, He will repay the persecutors.
Before we accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we were ruled by our own fleshly desires. Flesh does not want to love others or help them in any way. Flesh is a “selfie”, it is all about me, me, me. After we accepted Jesus, God’s Spirit came to abide in us. Now, we are walking after the Spirit and not the flesh. God’s Spirit teaches us to love one another. As we mature in our walk with God, we should be learning to love more and more. As we love others more, we learn to first look at our faults and the areas we need to improve. If we do this in light of the Scriptures, we find that we have less time to meddle and gossip. This leads to a more peaceful life. We need to stay focused on Jesus and what He has called us to do, so that outsiders see the love we display and they will be drawn to Jesus.
1 Finally, my dear friends, since you belong to the Lord Jesus, we beg and urge you to live as we taught you. Then you will please God. You are already living that way, but try even harder.— 1 Thess. 4:1 CEV
When it comes to living a Holy Life, I am learning to never say “I have learned”. I find it much more truthful to say “I am learning”. It seems that every time I think I have my mind wrapped around a Biblical concept, God opens each verse a little wider and I see there is more to it than I thought. I am not sure that I will ever graduate from Spiritual kindergarten. I believe that is why Paul carries the theme of learning, teaching, and encouraging throughout the book of 1 Thessalonians. We must continue to study and to mentor others until Jesus calls us home. To me, that is part of the beauty of Scriptures. They just never grow old or boring, Every day, God has something fresh, new, awesome, and wonderful for us to learn and to teach others.
6 And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. 7 Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. — Col. 2:6-7 NLT
How many times a day do we thank God for His goodness and blessings? Were you filled with joy at the dawn of a new day? Did you say, “good morning, Lord!” or “good Lord, it’s morning!”? Did you thank Him for keeping you safe through the night? Did you thank Him that you have eyes that can see the light of dawn? Did you thank Him that you have ears to hear the birds singing? Did you thank Him that you live in a country such as ours? Did you thank Him for the clothes you wear and also the clothes that you will probably never wear again? You don’t think that it is necessary to thank God everyday? Did you know that a lot of God’s anger at the children of Israel was because of their ingratitude for all that He had done for them? And He has done so much more for us. Do a word search and see how many times the words, “thank”. “thankful” and words that have similar meanings appear throughout the Bible. We should always be thankful because we could lose all these good things in a second.
2 Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart. — Col. 4:2 NLT
There seems to be as many opinions on when, what, where, and how to pray as there are people that pray. Paul tells us to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17). Jesus admonishes us to ask and keep on asking. Jesus set the example of praying by going off by Himself on several occasions and praying for hours, sometimes all night. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed so long and fervently that He sweated drops of blood. (Doctors say that it is possible for the body to be so stressed that that could happen). When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, He gave them what we call “The Lord’s Prayer”. It is an example of prayer, but the prayer that Jesus prayed for His disciples and us is in John 17. Prayer is not a magic wand that we wave over a problem that arises in our life. Prayer should be something that we do everyday, several times a day. You can pray anywhere, anytime, it is an attitude. It can be as simple as talking with a friend or as formal as you want it to be. It should come from the heart with the expectation that God will hear and answer. Perhaps, in today’s world, we could just think of it as a text message to God. With the added benefit that you can do it while you are driving.
Our attitude should always be one of obedience to God. This attitude should be reflected in our love and service to our fellow man. What that relationship is does not allow us to change the way we do things. We are working for Jesus, He is our only Master. If we can be sure that what we are doing and how we are doing it pleases Him, then He will give us an inheritance with Him as our reward. Working here on earth does not get us rewards from God in the here and now. Those rewards are laid up in heaven where nothing can destroy them. The blessings we receive here on earth are just that, they are blessings given to us freely by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Yesterday’s writing ended with us clothing ourselves in the characteristics of Jesus. The outer covering of all those characteristics must be Christ’s righteousness and love. The love of Christ wraps around us, reaches out and touches others and binds us all together in unity and perfect harmony. Jesus promised us a peace that passes understanding and we have that when Jesus is ruling our hearts. The Good News about Jesus fills our lives. Then we are to teach others that message using the wisdom He gives us. That love and unity is how we should represent Jesus to unbelievers. To quote Francis of Assisi, “Preach the Gospel and, if necessary, use words.” Most of all, we should always have “an attitude of gratitude” thanking God for all His love and blessings. That attitude comes from a heart filled with joy and causes our lips to sing His praises all day, every day!
10 I am overwhelmed with joy in the Lord my God! For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness. I am like a bridegroom dressed for his wedding- Isaiah 61:10 NLT
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous