THE BOOK OF 1 THESSALONIANS
J. Deering, AncientPath.net
Chapter 4, Verses 9-12 "A Life Pleasing to God" Positive
Chapter 4, Verses 9-12 "A Life Pleasing to God" Positive
4:9 Now on the topic of brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another.
We have just come out of the subject of immorality. Paul has told the Thessalonians to beware of immoral uses of their bodies. Paul is quick here to affirm to them that their "moral" love toward their brothers and sisters in-Christ comes from God.
So, on the one hand in the first 8 verses, Paul makes them aware that lust and immorality are unacceptable. On the other hand, moral love between the members of the Body of Christ is not only acceptable - but taught by God.
If you do not love the other members of the Body of Christ - you must not be "taught of God." This would indicate that you have turned the control over which you love over to fleshly, worldly (or satanic) influences.
The Apostle John wrote telling of the words of Jesus,
“I give you a new commandment – to love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. Everyone will know by this that you are my disciples – if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).
The Apostle Mark wrote also of Jesus telling us,
Now one of the experts in the law came and heard them debating. When he saw that Jesus answered them well, he asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The most important is: ‘Listen, Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:28-31)
So, we see that loving the people of God has been the teaching of God from the beginning. In the Old Testament He makes it clear that the nation of Israel is to be loved and that this commandment of God reaches out to the whole world as well. The same is true in the New Testament - while we have a special love for our believing brothers and sisters, we are to honor the character of God that insists that those who are related to Him - need to love all people, for all are His. No human should go un-loved. While many may remain unsaved, none will miss heaven unloved. It is therefore the believer's obligation to love as He loves.
The emphasis in this verse is upon the love of the Thessalonians toward their brothers and sisters in-Christ.
Then too, we must consider the whole concept that we have a God who teaches us. We learn from the Bible that God has chosen to reveal Himself. The method he chose that makes all accountable for knowing that "He is" is called "General Revelation." God is "transcendent" in His being, that is, outside of our direct apprehension, consciousness, or understanding. But He has chosen to be known through His works. Science, the sun, the moon, and all other created things offer no excuse for not coming to the conclusion that God is.
His second path He has chosen is to communicate with humanity. In this process He speaks directly to some and He communicates through His Holy Spirit (even to commit the written word). His greatest method of communication was through His Son, Jesus Christ. This process is called "Specific Revelation." Our God has chosen to be a communicator.
He is there, He speaks with and to us, He constantly teaches us. When things go wrong with our plans, it is not because God does not teach, but because we do not listen or learn.
4:10 And indeed you are practicing it toward all the brothers and sisters in all of Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more,
So, Paul reaffirms the Thessalonians' love for each other. From this little church of Thessalonica, the love of God spread all over southeastern Europe.
Paul's use of the word "urge," (Gk: parakaloumen) is a beautiful picture. It is of the one who is called along side for a special message. We could picture a man on his death bed with a final message for a loved one - "Come here, alongside my bed, there is something I must tell you." "I urge you, ... to do more and more, in this matter of loving like God loves."
"More and more," is the repeated phrase. This phrase reflects God's intention that the process of maturing in Christ is the result of a continuing, endless, concentrated process that, as C. S. Lewis wrote, brings the believer "deeper in" and "further up." In his book, "The Last Battle," the children who have recently died in the story, journey from the physical place called "Narnia," through death, to their Eternal Spiritual Home called "Narnia." All the while being told by Aslan (the Christ figure of the series of books) over and over again, page after page, to go "deeper in" and further up."
Since we have already tackled the "Lordship" phenomenon, just a thought here that "more and more," "deeper in and further up," are not calls to separation or conservativism. They are instead calls to continue to grow in Godly love for both our brothers and sisters in Christ, and for the souls of the rest of the world. As Jesus wept for Jerusalem, we should be weeping for Israel, and all the other Nations who "have not Christ."
These next two verses are an extension on living and loving that will make the believer productive in such a way that both believers and unbelievers will see you, and your way of life, desirable.
4:11 to aspire to lead a quiet life, to attend to your own business, and to work with your hands, as we commanded you.
We must remember not to take this verse out of context. In the first century they largely did not have occupations outside manual labor that benefitted society. The "non-working" classes of people, again largely, involved in the areas of usury (loan sharking), immorality (female and male prostitution), magic, and forms of government susceptible to graft. In today's society, even though we still have these forms of "non-labor," we also have many legitimate occupations which require little or no physical labor. The verse is not saying that believers should abstain from non-labor occupations. The full meaning of verse 11 is seen through the proper understanding of verse 12.
4:12 In this way you will live a decent life before outsiders and not be in need.
The end result of these two verses (:11-12) is that our lives are to be decent. Commonly defined as: conforming to the recognized standard of propriety, good taste, and modesty (as in behavior or speech); being respectable; worthy; adequate; fair; kind; obliging; generous; suitable; and appropriate.
These traits, and other like them, incur a solid good reputation.
The Boy Scouts of America uses a 12 "law" program to encourage moral development of its boys. What many don't know about this list is that the BSA bases every one of the 12 "Laws" upon Bible Scripture. The BSA Scout Sabbath service contains the following:
A Scout is TRUSTWORTHY.
"The person who is dishonest shall not live in My house; the person who is untruthful shall not stand before My eyes." (Psalms 101:7)
A Scout is LOYAL.
"And Ruth said: "Do not beg me to leave you or to return from following after you, for where you go, I will go; and where you stay, I will stay. " (Ruth 1:16)
A Scout is HELPFUL.
"You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Leviticus 19:18)
A Scout is FRIENDLY.
"Can two walk together unless they agree?" (Amos 3:3)
A Scout is COURTEOUS.
"Honor your father and your mother." (Exodus 20:12)
A Scout is KIND.
"Withhold not good from the person to whom it is due, when it is in the power of your hand to do it." (Proverbs 3:27)
A Scout is OBEDIENT.
"Apply your heart to instruction, and your ears to the words of knowledge." (Proverbs 23:12)
A Scout is CHEERFUL.
"A glad heart is good medicine." (Proverbs 17:22)
A Scout is THRIFTY.
"Precious treasure remains in a wise person's dwelling, but a foolish person uses it up." (Proverbs 21:20)
A Scout is BRAVE.
"Be strong and of good courage." (I Chronicles 28:20)
A Scout is CLEAN.
"Who shall ascend the mountain of the Lord? And who shall stand in His holy place? The person who has clean hands and a pure heart." (Psalms 24:3-4)
A Scout is REVERENT.
"It has been told to you what is good, and what the Lord requires of you; Only to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God." (Micah 6:8)
Similarly AWANA teaches from a five point system: Respect, Wisdom, Grace, Destiny, and Perspective that covers young people from pre-school through High School.
These programs are largely the results of the clear Biblical teaching that ethics and morality do matter. From God's perspective it's all about reaching all peoples for Christ through lives that demonstrate the very character of God.
In a "nut-shell:" Love All through a Christ centered ethic and morality, that some might believe.