1 Thess 4:11-12
What does it mean to be so focused on gospel living? Everything you do should be done out of complete dependence on the blood-bought grace and promises found in the death and resurrection of Christ. Everything you do should be done with a view of displaying the all-satisfying grace of God in the gospel. Everything you do should show the glory of God, by treasuring above all things the One through whom grace comes. Our Lord Jesus Christ! He is our plumb line, the one who stands at the finish line when we pass from this life into the next. He is the reason we exist and live and find true joy in the midst of broken and fallen world. As Paul wrote “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him,” Col 1:14-22
Sometimes we tend to forget this truth as we walk out the door our homes. Our lives are hidden in Christ, and we should aspire to be like the image of Him to those outside the church. “Aspire” by definition is…. to long, aim, or seek energetically; be eagerly desirous, especially for something great or of high value. God has set us apart to righteous living and that is only possible through the Lord Jesus Christ and the work of the Spirit in our lives.
What are we to aspire for in the Christian life? As Mark Devers said “If you're a Christian parent, what do you want for your kids? If you're a Christian kid, what do you want for your family? Probably you want a number of attributes to increasingly mark your family: love, joy, holiness, unity, and reverence before the Lord. You can probably think of a number of items. But let's try to sum up all those qualities with one not very exciting word: healthy. You want a healthy family—a family that works and lives and loves together as God designed the family to do. So it is for our churches. I propose that Christians, whether pastors or church members, should aspire to have healthy churches.” We are to aspire to live a life pleasing to God, as individuals, but also we’re to aspire as we saw last week, to be a church that desires for other true bible believing churches. We are to aspire is to seek eagerly with a passion, for the true church to be a healthy church. Why, for what purpose? We see the answer in the text! (v12) What does it mean to be a Christian in today’s 21st century?
It’s very tough and stretching to say the least!
It’s definitely a persevering faith!
“Christianity is a shoe-leather faith....a living, practical faith that hits the streets in normal, everyday life, affecting everything from believer’s simplest attitudes and most mundane actions to their profoundest thoughts and noblest deeds......It’s only by belief in the gospel of Jesus Christ does the power of God transform the lives so that what believer’s profess that are able to live” John MacArthur. So Paul, once again leaves us more bread crumbs to help us understand what we are to aspire for as a church under God’s unmerited and unconditional grace found in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Aspire to live quietly (v11)
The idea includes being quiet, inwardly calm, living quiet peaceable and orderly lives. We are to walk in this community with the unspoken testimony that displays who you belong to, the Lord Jesus Christ. We are not to be the cause of gossip or speaking out inappropriately. We are not to seek the lime light, seek only to be loved and prized by Christ ALONE! Eccl 4:6 “Better a handful with quietness than both hands full, together with toil and grasping for the wind.” We are to be leading peaceful lives, free of conflict and hostility towards others. This is our witness or testimony to the transforming power of the Gospel. Don’t give people a reason to say anything negative about you and your character! Walk in way that displays Christ as extremely valuable and not worth to dishonor by bad decisions our loud behavior. So as Paul said in 2 Cor 5:9 “Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him.” What do I mean? Don’t hang out in compromising situations with the opposite sex when no one’s around. Don’t put yourself in any situation that is going to cause people to speak poorly about you or your church family. Don’t give the unsaved world any reason to call you “a hypocrite’ as Jesus did with the so-called religious elites. Don’t put yourself in uncompromising situations that cause confusion, not only for the saved, but confusion for the unsaved as well. We are to live peaceably with all people, but without compromising at the same time. Esteem to live a quit life........because it keeps you from controversy and it causes you to grow deep in love with Christ.
Aspire to mind your own business (v11)
We are not to be the cause of grief or meddling in the affairs of others (murmuring). This was a becoming a problem for the church. Paul writes later in 2Thess 3:11-12 “For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies (wasting their labour...running around meddling in everyone’s problems). Now those who are such we command and exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ that they work in quietness and eat their own bread.” When a person isn’t keeping busy ......they tend to have a lot time to think and that usually leads to trouble. Ask my younger daughter Hannah, what she does when she is bored? Paul was telling the church to work diligently, to stay out of other’s people’s business and lead quiet, unobtrusive lives that serve for the glory of God. A great example of this is found Matthew 20:1-16. Where Jesus, speaks of a landowner, who hires a group of labourers at different time of the day. To do what? Tend to his vineyard. He hired some first thing in the morning, and more throughout the day. At the end of the day, Jesus says, the man paid everyone according to his (the landowner's) goodness. "So when evening had come, the owner of the vineyard said to his steward, 'Call the laborers and give them their wages, beginning with the last to the first.' And when those came who were hired about the eleventh hour, they each received a denarius (a fair days wage). But when the first came, they supposed that they would receive more; and they likewise received each a denarius. (V8-v10)
But something happens when they all get their wage. "And when they had received it, they complained against the landowner, saying, 'These last men have worked only one hour, and you made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the heat of the day.' (V11-v12). What does the Landowner Say? Matt 20:14-16 “Take what is yours and go your way. I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or is your eye evil because I am good?' So the last will be first, and the first last. For many are called, but few chosen." This is the kind of behavior Paul is speaking of here to the church of Thessalonica. We are not to pursue.....we are not to interfere in other people’s business. Keep your mouth shut....because this speaks volumes to your true character is what Paul is saying!! When they punched, slapped, spit and whip Jesus to a pulp, the bible says “When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.” 1 Peter 2:23
Aspire to work with your hands (v11)
Many of the working class and slave labor Christians, thought since they were free through Jesus Christ, this meant they were free from their duties to their master...But that is not true? We don’t quit our jobs and mooch of others because we are saved by Jehovah God (My Provider) God gave us a mind and it’s called common-sense!! We are to work until He comes back or calls us home!! Paul said this to Philemon about Onesimus “no longer as a slave but more than a slave—a beloved brother, especially to me but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.” (Verse 16). The Christian life is not a free ride as we see in 2 Thess 3:10 “if anyone will not work, neither shall they eat”. Eph 4:28 we read “Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.” It’s the same thing Paul spoke of to the other churches... “Bondservants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God. And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ. But he who does wrong will be repaid for what he has done, and there is no partiality.” Col 3:22-25
Our community must be given no excuse for thinking that Christians were and are unprofitable members to society. As FF Bruce said “the church could not discharge its ministry of witness and reconciliation in the world unless its members adorned the gospel with their lives as well as their lips.” What are we to do, so that this doesn’t happen to us? A great example is the parable of the 1o minas (3 month’s salary), which was a very small amount of money found in Luke 19:12-13. We are to carry on with our everyday lives and responsibilities until Christ returns. How? By using the time we have for Him and the gifts He has given us. A life that exemplifies the Lord Jesus Christ in action and in word. Because they both go hand in hand. Can I ask you! What are you doing with your minas until the nobleman return, until Jesus return? Some Christians would say “employment is for work, school is for learning, leisure is for playing, and church is for Sunday.” But that is so wrong! Our lives are on display for the world to see the grace that He freely gives to all who come to Him through REPENTABNCE and FAITH. Whether we are at work, school, play or church…..everyday should be treated as a Sunday! A wretched group of people, [you and I] saved by sovereign grace. As Paul said “Jesus is not part of your life; Jesus is your life.” “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” Col 3:1-4
So! Why should I aspire to live like this Paul? Answer! (v12) “so that you may walk properly before outsiders…” “Properly” by definition is “conforming to established standards of behavior or manners; correct or well-behaved.” This is how we are to live before outsiders, living a life that is above reproach! “Above reproach” means “a life free from sinful habits or behaviors that would hinder his or hers life. It’s the idea of setting the bar high! This is the highest Christian standard and model for the church. Sadly though, what do outsiders see coming from the church
- Gossip and murmuring
- Childish behavior when things don’t go your way.
- Confused people who don’t know what they believe.
- Arguing about the most unorthodox things.
- Self-righteous behavior and attitude
- Treating one another’s with contempt which leads to disunity.
Instead we should aspire and be known as a…….
- Gospel saturated church that digs deep into His word.
- People who truly love one another, despite our imperfections.
- People walking in a way that is pleasing to God
- Reflecting and speaking the truth in love as Christ did.
Redeem the time in a worthy manner....because for the day is at hand.
- Live a life that brings honor and praise to the Gospel that saved you.
- Live a life that knows enough to keep the big barn door shut.
- Live a life that lives practically and usefully until the Lord returns.
The church is to be an example to the world, not a hindrance, or a laughing stock.
Stop speaking inappropriately and preserve your testimony to those outside. Stop murmuring and mind your own business and preserve your testimony to those outside. Stop mooching off others and work! And preserve your testimony to those outside. Display that Christ is more valuable and that the people around you are more important than life itself. We must never evade our daily responsibilities under the pretense of proclaiming or preparing for Christ’s return..........“To do so, is to distort this great hope we have.” The world is watching to see if you and I are who we say, we are! “Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time.” Col 4:5. As Mark Devers said “A healthy church is not a church that's perfect and without sin. It has not figured everything out. Rather, it's a church that continually strives to take God's side in the battle against the ungodly desires and deceits of the world, our flesh, and the devil. It's a church that continually seeks to conform itself to God's Word………..A healthy church is a congregation that increasingly reflects God's character as his character has been revealed in his Word.” So live your life gospel centered and focused on Christ, and......You will be able to walk in holiness and flee sexual immorality. You will be able to love your church family and the true gospel saturated churches around the globe. You will be able to aspire to live a life that is above reproach to those who are outside. [People who desperately need Jesus Christ and His saving mercies.] This is Paul’s desire for you and me, according to the God breathed words found in the bible.