What does the Christian life look like?
How do we know what to do?
What if my life doesn't look like your life?
Hmmm . . . good questions. I will occasionally hear someone say that the Bible just isn't practical in this modern day. Someone else might say that there is just so much in there that they don't really know what to do. Someone else may say that need to read the whole thing before they can really live out the Christian life.
I was reading 1st Thessalonians this week and I eventually landed on my favorite chapter, 1st Thessalonians 5 - specifically verses 11-24.
Living out God's call on your life is a very personal thing. I don't know that any two lives look the same. BUT - there are things that we are called to do and to be and this chapter gives a great description that I aspire to obey.
Verse 11: Encourage one another; Build up one another
What a difference we can make when this is our objective. There are so many opportunities every day to encourage and build up someone. Take them . . .
Verse 12: Appreciate those who diligently labor among you
Verse 13: Esteem them in love; Live in peace with one another
That is a great word for those that minister to us - serve us in our churches and in our family. Let's esteem them - let's do everything we can to create an environment of peace. Write an encouraging note - give a word of affirmation.
Verse 14: Admonish the unruly; Encourage the fainthearted; help the weak; be patient with everyone
Well - that about covers it - doesn't it! Admonish means to caution, advise or counsel. This is always in the best interest of the other person. Again, we see the word encouragement and this time, it is all about those who are struggling. Any of us can find ourselves feeling fainthearted or weak. Be patient with everyone? Really? Everyone? Apparently so.
Verse 15: Don't repay evil for evil; Seek after the which is good for one another
This is so counter cultural. We live in a very "me" oriented world and payback is a popular concept. What a revolutionary difference we can make by seeking that which is good for one another - even those that have treated us with "evil" intentions.
Verse 16: Rejoice Always
Yep - ALWAYS. Even when things are not looking good - Even when things are not going my way - Even when I am overwhelmed - because the reason for JOY is my relationship with Jesus, and that is available each and every day.
Verse 17: Pray without ceasing
Yep - without ceasing. Prayer is a constant conversation with the Lord. It is making Him a part of every decision you make. It is talking over the events of the day and how you will respond to each one of them. It is lifting up the people you love to Him - because only He can meet their needs and provide them with the strength and joy that they need. It is getting to that place in your life where Jesus is not set aside as a separate part of your life - a quiet time or prayer time - but He is present in every moment of your day. Each breath is taken with the acknowledgement that He is the giver of that breath. That, my friend, is praying without ceasing.
Verse 18: In everything, give thanks
Yep - we are well acquainted with the words ALWAYS and EVERYTHING. They are words that we don't throw around lightly. That being said, I believe that embracing this command is the key to living out God's call in your life. It is really difficult sometimes and depending on your circumstances, it may seem impossible. Giving thanks in all circumstances is a direct result of your relationship, trust and dependence on the Lord. It is impossible apart from Him. It is more than possible with Him.
Verse 19: Do not quench the Spirit
We do have a choice as to how we respond to the Spirit. He is constantly guiding us, counseling us, convicting us and giving us life. We can, however, choose to ignore Him. We can choose to continue in our sin and eventually, we don't hear the voice of the Spirit anymore. He hasn't gone anywhere. We have just quenched Him. This is not a place that I want to find myself.
Verse 20: Do not despise prophetic utterances
Verse 21: Examine everything carefully; Hold fast to that which is good.
God speaks through His people. When someone has a word from the Lord, we need to pay attention. That may be during a sermon or it may come through the voice of a friend. The Lord speaks to me in many ways. I want to be paying attention and I always want to take everything back to Him - place it before Him and test its truthfulness. The Lord will not speak to me in ways that are contrary to His Word.
Verse 22: Abstain from every form of evil
This is a tough one. There are some things that just shout "EVIL" and we are pretty good at staying away from those things, however, the real danger is in the things that whisper "evil" hoping that we won't hear it. What are these things in your life? If you are like me, you know.
Verse 24: Faithful is He who calls you and He also will bring it to pass
YAY!! This is such good news. Looking over these verses can feel a bit overwhelming, but the good news is that Jesus is the one who calls you to this life and He is also the One who empowers you to live it. He is committed to complete the good work that He began in you. (Philippians 1:6)
I don't know everything there is to know about Scripture. I still have so much to learn, but I know enough from this passage alone to set my life on the right path. There is more than enough here to keep me busy.
So - next time someone says, "I just don't know what the Lord wants me to do?" you can point them to this passage. So much of who we need to be and how we need to live is laid out plain and simple in the Word.
Don't worry so much about what you don't know.
Live out what you do know.