We’ve all heard how it important it is to love God and love each other. If we get those two things right, many of the other things we’ll face in life will simply fall into place. That’s not to say life will be “easy,” but it does mean we’ll enjoy life more fully when we can learn what it means to love with Christian love.
Again, Paul seems extremely impressed with the Thessalonians and how these young Christians are getting it right. “We urge you in the name of the Lord Jesus to live in a way that pleases God, as we have taught you. You live this way already, and we encourage you to do so even more.” Paul uses some examples that these Gentiles would understand when he speaks of sexual sin. Adultery and other sexual freedoms would have been common among the Gentiles (pagans or new believers) of that day. Certainly, this is behavior that doesn’t please God.
You can bet that this text hasn’t been preached on much. Can you imagine the preacher standing before his congregation in prime-time, Sunday morning, trying to keep it family friendly for the children? But it is a message we still need to hear, especially in a world full of sexual promiscuity. Suffice it to say that Paul’s audience understood without him having to be any more graphic. “God has called us to live holy lives, not impure lives.”
When we make it our goal to live a life that pleases God, we might also feel frustrated because we fall short. All the time. But we have a forgiving God, and he loves us no matter what. He knows we will need encouragement–that’s why we have his Word. He knows we’ll stumble—that’s why he sent Jesus. He knows we’ll be weak—that’s why he sent his Spirit.
What did you think when you read these words? “Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we instructed you before.” Some may think, well that sounds boring. But we are being given a huge hint here to living a life that pleases God. He doesn’t want us to be flamboyant and showy (unless we are bragging about him). He doesn’t want us meddling in other people’s business and gossiping (that hurts everybody). He wants us to use what we have been given (our hands) to do his work. Beautiful!
Why do we want to live like this? “Then people who are not believers will respect the way you live, and you will not need to depend on others.” God has given us everything that we need. When we worry about what our neighbors think of us (and I tend to do this way more than I should) it can hold us back from being who God wants us to be. When we live to please God, our lives will look amazing and people seeing us will respect us. They may even want to know what we’re doing to have such a great looking life!
I often think of this quote from somebody–I don’t remember where it originated. “Our lives may be the only Bible some people ever read.” Think on that today.
Let’s pray … Lord, I thank you for how you are speaking to my heart in these passages. You really challenge me to take a closer look at my devotion to you and whether my behavior is pleasing to you. Help me discern your will for my life. I want to be the good example others are looking for when trying to find you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.