“But concerning brotherly love you have no need that I should write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another; and indeed you do so toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, that you increase more and more; that you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you, that you may walk properly toward those who are outside, and that you may lack nothing.”
I Thessalonians 4:9-12 NKJV
They say that there is no one worse than a former smoker. People who have given up the habit have a tendency to be harsh and troublesome toward those who still have the habit. As they have tasted the fresh air in their lungs, and the freedom of being smokeless, they go about “evangelizing” to get others to stop. Their efforts become like fingernails on the chalkboard.
In their zeal, they have forgotten the love, the empathy that is needed. They have forgotten that they themselves were once trapped, and all that the addiction entailed. Rather than see the good that comes from quitting, the former smoker becomes an irritation, causing attention to be taken away from the message.
I remember when I became a follower of Christ. I was overly zealous with my new found faith, and I was more than a little ham-handed. I am sure that I offended many in those early days. I was also difficult with my fellow believers, as I had a very black and white view of what a walk of faith should look like. When I saw behaviors that thought were out of line, I was quick to point fingers.
The message of the Gospel that had saved me was overshadowed by my own flaws. I was in the way, and not pointing to the Lord.
Paul wrote to the Thessalonians about some of these things. The church was facing much persecution, and the external pressure was creating internal pressure within the body. Paul wrote them of the need to continue being the people of God, maintaining holiness, fleeing sexual immorality, and keeping the peace in the body. He emphasis the need to love, even more so in the trials of the times.
In the face of pressure, there is always a desire to strike back, to begin doing to those in opposition, what has been done against us. Doing so robs the follower of Christ of peace, and inhibits the ability to share the message of the Gospel.
We can become consumed by the desire to compete in the common forum, shouting our beliefs. In the midst of conflict, we fail to tell people that Jesus loves them and that He came to forgive their sins.
“Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.”
I Peter 2:11-12 NKJV
We are being watched more than ever, as those who are lost see that we are different. Many are quick to see the inconsistencies when we fail, and cast doubt on the Gospel we seek to proclaim. Sometimes it is best to simply mind ones own business.
I came to realize many years ago, that most of the people, if not the vast majority, that I encountered each day, had never heard the Gospel, did not know God and operated on their own appetites and lusts. Attempting to debate morality is a losing battle, because they do not have a clue.
They become annoyed when we go on about what is right and wrong, when for them, wrong is right and they cannot possibly know the difference. They do not have the standard set in God’s word, nor do they have the Holy Spirit.
Rather than go to war over culture, it is far more favorable to proclaim the glory of God, of His sending Jesus, His Son to die for the sins of the world. It is far better to proclaim the power of the resurrection and the newness of life possible through salvation. It is not until they are saved, that people can understand the morality of the bible.
Our testimony is the most powerful thing we have to share. In our stories, many see themselves, see the damage that has been done, and hopefully, see what God can do.
I spent a season listening to the old UNSHACKLED broadcasts, coming from the Pacific Garden Mission in Chicago. I loved the dramatic portrayals of the testimonies. They were spectacular, as many of the true stories depicted the lowest of the low, saved by God’s grace and transformed.
God had made their testimonies a spectacle.
In these times, the cross is to be in the forefront, the point of contention. People need to see the work of God in the lives of followers of Christ.
Brothers and sisters, God’s desire is that we be a spectacle, a bright shining example of His work, of what we can do in the lives of a believer. All that we do and all that we say must be dedicated to proclaim His power to save. Living a quiet life in Christ is far more favorable than being loud and focused on proclaiming one’s political views. We are to be trophies of God’s grace.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”
Ephesians 2:8-10 NKJV
I like the word “workmanship”. In some versions it is rendered masterpiece. We are truly that, as God works on us one chisel at a time, sculpting us into the image of His Son.
Pray that the Lord help you to be consistent in proclaiming Jesus each day, and telling of what He did for you through such a great salvation. Pray for all you may encounter, hoping that their hearts would be open to the Gospel.
Let us be a spectacle for God!
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