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Four Qualities that Please God - 13

Beacon Baptist / Gregory N. Barkman
The Truth Network Radio
July 11, 2021 7:00 pm

Four Qualities that Please God - 13

Beacon Baptist / Gregory N. Barkman

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July 11, 2021 7:00 pm

In this passage from 1 Thessalonians we find four qualities of life that honor God. Pastor Greg Barkman continues his expositional series.

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Turn in your Bibles, please, to 1 Thessalonians chapter 4. We shall read in your hearing verses 1 through 12 as we continue in this section. And we'll be completing this section, Lord willing, this morning, taking our text from verses 9 through 12. Listen to this portion of God's holy word. Finally, then, brethren, we urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more, just as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God. For you know what commandments we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification, that you should abstain from sexual immorality, and that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God. That no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified. For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness.

Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us his Holy Spirit. 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. Join with me around God's throne. We bow in your presence once again, most holy God. We come to worship you, for you are worthy of our worship. You are holy. You are majestic. You are eternal.

You are uncreated. You are the source of all that exists. You are the source of our lives, and you are the source of our eternal salvation. And we bow to worship, to praise you, to thank you, and to wait to hear from heaven, to ask you to open your word to our hearts today, that we may understand and apply this truth that is so vital to our souls. And we come, O Lord, today to lay our petitions at your throne, for they are many.

We have so many people who stand in special need of divine help. We pray today for Larry Norris, who was rushed to the hospital and is now back home, and is dealing with a diagnosis of diverticulosis, and is in a great deal of pain. We pray that you will minister to him and give the doctors wisdom as he attends his doctor's appointment tomorrow. We pray, O Lord, for Shirley Watkins as she is recovering at home, and we thank you that she is better, having gone to the hospital and spent two or three days there this week, and we thank you that she is now recovering. We pray for Brandon Norris, that you might be with this man who is in ICU at Chapel Hill and is not in good condition.

We commit him into your care. We pray for the family of Paula Appel, this lady who years ago was an active member of our congregation and has now been called into eternity. We pray for her. We pray for all of those who are touched by this life and by this death. And we commit to you the funeral service this coming Saturday at Heiko Baptist that you might be honored in all that is done at that time. We pray for Katherine Thornton in this very severe car accident, and thank you that you brought her through her first surgery. We know, Lord, that she has a long road ahead, and we commit her to you for your grace and for your peace and comfort.

We have learned this morning that Lee Vestal is in a RMC with a colon blockage, and we commit him to you. We pray for Randy Faircloth, that you might minister to his needs, and also to Renee Griffin, and also to Joshua Boyd, that you might come to him in his time of need and, according to your wisdom and power, address every need of his life at this time. And, Father, truly we could continue calling out names, for there are many others. Lord, teach us that our comfort is not the main thing. Teach us, O Lord, that our life upon the earth is not all the life there is. Teach us, O Lord, that our purpose here is to bring honor and glory to you and to submit ourselves fully and completely to your sovereign will. And teach us, O Lord, the importance of preparing for eternity, of availing ourselves of the shed blood of Jesus Christ that cleanses from all sins. And we ask these things in Jesus' name.

Amen. In your bulletin you'll find an insert, and we'll sing together, Lord, we bow before your glory, manifested in your Son. And we always stand and sing. And when we attend, we'll stand tall and wide. Singing praises to your station, all the houses of God spread wide.

We are moving toward a vision that reflects our lives and lives. We'll sing our lives all day long, all these years long for your praise. God in me, God in me, in his name, we sing his homeless praise. God in heaven, who's receiving, Jesus, have mercy on his praise. Holy, gracious, heavenly being, all sufficient is his grace. Let me guide you, let him, Jesus Christ, our King and Lord. Let our love grow greatly greater, as we hear his holy word. Let every one love him, let every one who has no praise.

Let us hold tight, let us obey, we sing our praise all day long. Well, the first part, the first nearly half or a little more than half of 1 Thessalonians chapter 4 deals with how we are to live, practical daily living in such a way that will please God. That's what we are told in verses 1 and 2, that this is an appeal to godly living. And then in verses 3 through 12, Paul gives us five areas that we need to give attention to in order to please God in our day to day conduct.

The first of which is in sexual purity. That is the one that receives the greatest emphasis, the one that we examined last Lord's Day. But today we're coming to four additional areas that are enumerated in verses 9 through 12. The first of which is rather widely known. It is declared widely among Christians and it is something that we all understand that we are supposed to do, namely to relate to one another with brotherly love. But numbers 2, 3, and 4, though I'm sure we've all heard something about them, are not really as widely emphasized nor as well known as the first one.

And yet they contain some very important elements. They are essential components in our life to pleasing God, and therefore we need to give careful attention to these four qualities of daily living that honor God, beginning with brotherly love in verses 9 and 10. 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 Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, that you increase more and more. Brotherly love, which is an essential component to pleasing God. It is the second of these five elements that are given to us in a God-honoring life.

This is next, second only to the subject of sexual purity, which, as I've already mentioned, received the greatest emphasis. But this is brotherly love, Philadelphia. Most of you are familiar with that term. We have, of course, Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love in America. Philadelphia, made up of two Greek words, philos, which is a word for love. It's not agapao, not agape love, but it is phileo. And it is also a word for love in the Bible.

Philos, or phileo, and adilphas, brother. And putting them together, you have brotherly love. Brotherly love, as it was used in the Greek language, was for that natural form of love that you find among people in the same family, between brothers and sisters, blood brothers and sisters in the same family, and actually not just brothers and sisters, but children to their parents and parents to their children and so forth and so on. That family love that is a natural love, though not always present, but nevertheless is a strong element of human society and is generally found to some degree in all human families. But that word is taken up by the Spirit of God and applied in the New Testament not to human families, but to the family of God. In fact, I really don't know any place in the New Testament where it is used in regard to human families, but it is used frequently, regularly, of the love that we have with one another in the family of God. Brotherly love, our love of brothers and sisters within the body of Christ, and that is what is being spoken of here, and it is indeed a very important matter. We're all familiar with the command of Christ in John chapter 13, where he said, A new commandment I give you, that you love one another, as I have loved you, that you also love one another. He goes on to say, By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another. We find in 1 John chapter 3 that brotherly love is a mark of believers, as indeed it was in the passage I just read in John 13. But we read in 1 John chapter 3, We know that we have passed from death to life because we love the brethren.

He who does not love his brother abides in death. Think about that statement for a while. And then this one in 1 John 4, 8. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

Again, think about that statement for a while. It is certainly an essential component to the Christian life. Because, as Paul goes on to tell us, it is a God implanted desire, and a God implanted ability. For he says, You have no need that I should write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another. Clearly there is something here that is different from some of the other things that Paul has written to them about. He doesn't say that you have no need that I write to you about sexual purity, because you are taught of God.

Though I'm sure that could be said in some sense, some lesser sense. But it's clear that though there are many things in the Christian life that we would not know, except they were given to us in the Bible, unless they were communicated to us by Christ, or by an apostle of Jesus Christ, or by the written word of God, there are at least some things that we know, at least in part, even without the Scriptures. If we are a Christian at all, we know, according to the words of Paul here, that we are to love one another. I don't even need to write to you about that, because you've already been taught by the Spirit of God to love one another. No need to write to you.

But he does. You find language like that often in the epistles of Paul. I don't need to write to you, but by the very fact of stating that, he is writing to them, isn't he? So even though there's a sense in which we know this without apostolic communication, it's also clear that we need to be reminded of it and exhorted to it to a greater degree, as Paul goes on to make clear.

But this is certainly important. But there's no need that I write this to you, and the question is, why not? Is it because you previously taught us that when you were in Thessalonica, so now you don't need to write it, no letter, back to Thessalonica? No, because there are a lot of things in this epistle that he says, I taught you this and I write to you again. I taught you this and I write to you again.

I taught you this, but I need to remind you of this again. But in this particular area, he says, there's no need that I write this unto you. But we're not left in this case to wonder why he makes that statement, because he tells us why. It is because you have been taught by God to love one another. There is a special work of the Spirit of God in the lives of Christians that teaches all believers to love other believers, that gives all believers a special kinship with other believers, that gives all believers a desire to fellowship with one another, to interact with one another, to demonstrate love to one another in the body of Christ. You are taught by God. It is obviously, therefore, an integral component of the new birth, as well as the inevitable result of regeneration.

Both of those things go together. In other words, it is always present in the life of anyone who is truly born again. It is something that is implanted by the work of the Spirit of God in the new birth. It is something that we are given along with that new heart when we become new creatures in Christ Jesus. It is something that we continue to have fortified within us by the indwelling Holy Spirit who lives within every true child of God. You are taught by God to love one another. So therefore, as we saw in the other text that I read from the Gospel of John and from the First Epistle of John, loving the brethren is both an evidence of the new birth and a test of regeneration. It is something you can check in your life. Sometimes we have reasons to wonder, have I truly been born again?

Those questions come to us from time to time along our daily sojourn, as indeed they should. And as that question comes to you, we think about things, hopefully things that are in the Bible rather than the kinds of sentimental things that we often look to. Oh, I know I'm born again because I walked down an aisle. I know I'm born again because I prayed a prayer with my mother.

That's not the kinds of things you find in the Bible. But we know that we have passed from death to life, we read, because what? Because we love the brethren. This is an evidence of new life. This is an evidence of the new birth. This is manifested in the lives of those who have been saved. It is both an evidence of salvation and a test.

Test yourselves to see if you be in the faith. And so the love of brethren is a very important matter. But it's not only a God implanted desire, but it is a practical activity because Paul goes on to say in verse 10 about their love one to another, And indeed you do so, you love one another, you do so, do so toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. Indeed you do so toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. What were they doing toward the brethren in Macedonia that Paul could say that is the evidence of your love?

This has been reported to me. Timothy no doubt had come back and given the report that these are people who demonstrate brotherly love. Well, how is that demonstrated? How is that manifested?

How is that communicated so that others see it? It's not just a feeling in the heart, is it? It's not just a sentiment that is private to each individual, but it's something that is seen and known and evidence to others. As Jesus said in John 13, All men know that you are my disciples, that you have love one for another.

A feeling in the heart isn't going to do that. That's not going to communicate to others that you are my disciples. But by the evidence of brotherly love, others will know that you are my disciples. So the question is, what was this activity that revealed their love one to another? And though we're not told precisely, it obviously was something that was observable and was tangible and was reportable.

There are several possibilities that come to my mind. Now, he makes it clear that they did this not only for the saints in Thessalonica, which is where they were, but to all the brethren throughout Macedonia. Macedonia being the territory, we would probably say the state, one of the provinces in the Roman Empire of which Thessalonica was the capital city. But there were other churches in Macedonia.

We know of Philippi, we know of Berea, and it's certainly possible that there were other churches that were now getting established in the surrounding areas. And these Christians in Thessalonica somehow managed to touch the lives of believers all over the province of Macedonia. All the brethren, all the brethren experience evidences of your love. And then that leads me, before I finish answering the question I raised a moment before, but that causes me to focus upon the use of the word all. And just to point out, as I do from time to time, that when you find the word all in the Bible, it does not usually mean every individual without exception.

And here's an obvious occasion of that. It certainly here means every individual without distinction. What Paul is saying is when you exercise your love, your practical Christian love toward the brethren, you don't play favorites, you don't say, I'm going to manifest love toward this guy because I like him, but I'm not going to manifest it toward this one because I don't particularly care for him. They didn't have that kind of petty spirit. They had the kind of spirit that said, I will help all those who are my brothers and sisters in Christ when and where it is appropriate. It wasn't everybody without exception, not all the saints, because they didn't all need practical expressions of love, but the ones who did were recipients of it without any distinction whatsoever. Now back to the question, what were they doing? Well, certainly they were probably showing generous hospitality to Christians when they traveled to the capital city.

That was common in that day. They were exemplary in that area. Furthermore, they were undoubtedly extending benevolence to Christians who were in need, both in their own church and in the surrounding churches when they heard about needs. Christians who were suffering, Christians who were being persecuted for their faith, Christians who were in need because of these things and they were quick to respond and they manifested love toward all the saints throughout all Macedonia. Their expression of love was both expansive and restricted. It was expansive in that it was not confined to Thessalonica.

It reached beyond that to the whole territory of Macedonia. But it was restricted by the limits of geography because they were in Macedonia to known believers. In other words, once again, it had to be something that could be done among people that were reachable, even if they weren't living in the same town. They were people that were close enough that they could communicate with, that they could know personally, that they could get to. Because this love that Paul is talking about is a generous and tangible activity involving real people. They were helping others tangibly.

In most cases, giving of their own resources to help others who were in need of such help. It is a practical activity, this brotherly love. And finally, it is a constant development because even though you have been taught of God and therefore in one respect have no need that I write unto you, nevertheless, you do need to be stirred up to greater expressions of this, greater development of it.

You do so toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia, but we urge you, brethren, that you increase more and more. So on the one hand, brotherly love is the result of divine sovereignty. God has sovereignly implanted this desire and ability in the heart of every Christian. We didn't develop that.

We didn't come up with that on our own. It was given to us by the sovereign work of God. But at the same time, it is also a human responsibility. It is something that we are to cultivate, something that we are to develop, something that we are to enlarge in our lives. It is only by the sovereign work of God that we have any genuine brotherly love. God has to do it within us. But having given us this divinely created ability, God now calls upon us to develop it, to cultivate it, to work on it, to increase it, to improve it for how long? For the rest of our lives.

Which leads me to ask the question in regard to our church when it comes to brotherly love. Are we there yet? There being, have we reached the final goal?

The answer is obviously no. We still have much room to increase yet more and more. But I can at least ask and answer this question, which I hope will be encouraging. Are we exemplary yet? Even though the Thessalonian church could not say that they had arrived at full development, at perfection in this area, Paul commends them for where they are and what they've done.

But he says you've got to develop it and increase yet more and more. So they couldn't say that they had arrived yet. But by Paul's testimony, they could take encouragement that they were exemplary in this area.

They were a good model for others. They did manifest this kind of brotherly love to a greater than average degree, I would take it. And so I say again, have we as a church arrived yet? No. Are we as a church exemplary in this area?

I hope so. I'll let somebody else answer that question. The Thessalonians didn't answer it for themselves. Paul said that they were exemplary.

I won't try to answer it. I'll let God be the judge. But I hope that by the grace of God, others would say, Beacon Baptist Church is exemplary in their demonstration of brotherly love one to another. That's the first quality in a God pleasing life. What's the second one? The second one is a quiet disposition. That you also, verse 11, aspire to lead a quiet life. In addition to number one, moral purity. And number two, brotherly love, that you also aspire to lead a quiet life.

Now here's one of those areas that I don't think we talk about very often. Here's one that is not widely proclaimed among Christians. Most Christians have heard about brotherly love again and again and again and again and again. Not many Christians have heard about the importance of leading a quiet life.

But here it is and we need to consider that as it's found in God's word. What is desired? What does Paul mean by a quiet life? He means a subdued lifestyle. Let me expand upon that to make clear what he is apparently talking about. The word quiet means either restful or settled.

It can maybe be better seen by its opposite. A quiet life means a life that is not noisy, not frantic, not restless. A quiet life is a life that is not responding frantically to the events that are around you. A quiet life is a life that is not continually manufacturing excitement for one's own satisfaction and the confusion of others, as it almost always does. A quiet life is not disruptive in the lives of others.

A quiet life suggests a regular schedule and fixed habits. That is the life that honors God. The opposite is a life that does not please God. Have you ever thought about that before? Have you ever considered that before? Did you even know that was in the Bible?

But it is. And as I was going over my notes for the final time this morning, I received this email from my friend Dale Wallace, who's been involved in Bible camp ministry this last week. And he forwarded a two or three page evaluation of this last week of camp by one of the adults who was there. It's very encouraging. But in one section of this extended letter, she says, let me report on some of the things that I heard people say as I went around throughout the camp this week.

And she said this, a student in the middle class who was talking to a counselor said, I like being around you because you are calm and I'm not used to being around adults that are that way. That's the idea. That's what Paul is talking about. That you learn to be calm, that you learn to live a quiet life. That's what is desired.

And the question is, how is this achieved? How do you make this part of your life, since obviously God tells us that this is important to him? And though this is a short phrase that you aspire to lead a quiet life, that word aspire to tells us a great deal. It's translated in some Bibles that you make it your ambition to lead a quiet life. And again, that's something we probably would never think of in the area of what we ought to have an ambition for. People have an ambition for all kinds of things. Some people have an ambition to get rich.

We know there's some questions about that one. Some people have an ambition to achieve high office, which may or may not be an honorable ambition, depends on what the motive for that is. Some people have an ambition to achieve advanced degrees, to earn a doctor's degree perhaps in education. And again, depending upon the motive for that, that may or may not be an honorable ambition. But how many of you have ever honestly said, I, by God's help and grace, am going to make it my ambition to lead a quiet life?

That's my ambition. One commentator put it this way. The God-honoring Christian seeks strenuously to be still.

That almost seems like a paradox, doesn't it? But that's really the way it's put here, to aspire, to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to seek strenuously to be still. In other words, achieving this quiet life doesn't come easily. It takes diligent effort. To achieve a quiet life is something that we're going to have to fight for at times, depending upon our circumstances. But I would say we live in an age when probably we have to do battle in this area more than perhaps our forefathers did, who lived in times when there weren't so many distractions as we have in our age. But it's going to take real diligence, real effort, real willingness to fight, real willingness to oppose, real willingness to say no, real willingness to put things aside in order to achieve this God-honoring quality of leading a quiet life.

Mike Stallard in his commentary said it takes much effort to maintain a quiet life in the midst of a storm. And what Paul is telling us is the need of some people, some Christians, for constant drama, you know what I mean? The need of some Christians for constant drama is a carnal desire that needs to be subdued by the grace of God. That doesn't please God. You say, well, that's just my personality. That doesn't please God. Well, that's just the way I'm made. In Adam, yes.

In Christ, get remade. In Jeffrey Wilson, his commentary said when inward tranquility prevails, outward idleness and meddling will cease. When inward tranquility prevails, outward idleness and meddling will cease. And so of the four qualities that we're looking at today, Paul says a God-honoring daily life for a Christian consists of the following.

Number one, brotherly love. Number two, a quiet disposition. Interestingly, this is said by an apostle whose life appeared to be anything but quiet. But the disruptions in his life were things that were brought upon him by others, but they weren't things that he was seeking.

He, all the while, in spite of all of the disruptions and oppositions and drama that were brought into his life, all the while he was working diligently to lead a quiet and peaceable life, to calm down inwardly and outwardly so that he could lead a quiet life. Well, number three, what comes next? The third area is an appropriate privacy.

Appropriate. That you also, verse 11, aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business. Now, some of these things overlap a bit, but nevertheless, they need to be looked at individually. To mind your own business and appropriate privacy.

What is desired here? Well, actually, the quality that's in view here is probably not exactly the first thing that comes to our minds when we hear this phrase, to mind your own business, though it does relate to it. But what Paul is really talking about is, if we'd wrap it up in one word, it is the word diligence. The emphasis is not on, but out, get out of my business. Though you will, if you do this, because you won't have time to get into other people's business in an improper way.

But the emphasis is not on, but out. The emphasis is, get busy, be diligent with what God has given you to do. To mind your business, to take care of your business, to attend to your own responsibilities. And it is diligent focus upon your God-given affairs.

Of course, when you do that, you won't be spending a lot of time. Involved in the business affairs of others because you are too busy taking care of your own. This requirement is to make your own business your main priority. This requirement says don't let involvement in other matters replace diligence in your own responsibilities.

Now clearly we've got some balance, some contrast going on here. Because on the one hand, if we're going to exercise brotherly love, we have to lovingly become involved in the lives of others. We have to know about their needs. We have to analyze their needs in such a way that we can be truly helpful to them as we exercise brotherly love. But it's possible to overdo your involvement in the lives of others so that it becomes meddlesome and becomes counterproductive.

And that's what Paul is talking about here. Make sure that your first priority is your own business. It's not that you never get involved in anybody else's life. You must be pleasing to God. But it is that you don't let involvement in other things that are outside your God-given affairs take over your life so that you are neglecting your God-given affairs. There's so many ways that this can happen. I tried to think of some that are more common in our life than they would be in Paul's day.

What are some of the problems that war against our demonstrating an appropriate privacy? I couldn't help but think about politics and how some people get so involved in politics and how some people become news junkies and they spend hours and hours every day and every week informing themselves and reading more and talking about and getting involved in what's going on in the political situation. There's neglecting, neglecting, neglecting their own work all the while. But oh, this is important. Well, God's word helps us to sort all this out. There is an element of importance there. Politics affects all of our lives. But folks, if your involvement in politics is causing you to neglect your own business, then you are giving it too much time and attention.

Mind your own business. I couldn't help but think about the huge factor that computers are, computers of one kind or another in the lives of most Americans today. And some of these things overlap a bit. Sometimes people's involvement in politics has got them on their computers hour upon hour upon hour reading this, reading that, researching this, researching that, following this, following that. Or they may be on computers playing computer games and so forth. And again, these are not things that are sinful in their place to an appropriate degree. But if it is causing you to neglect your God-given responsibilities, then it is sinful. Mind your own business.

Make sure that your business is not being neglected by your interest in other things legitimate as they may be in a proper proportion in their proper place. Cell phones. I'm beginning to think that some people have become surgically attached to their cell phones. I never see them without a cell phone in their hand. They can't seem to go anywhere without... They can't seem to carry on a conversation with somebody else without checking to see what's going on.

You have to be careful, folks. Cell phones can take over your life in a very detrimental way. It's a useful tool in its place. But it can become a great temptation to dishonor God when it causes you to neglect your own business because you are spending so much time on your phone socializing. Nothing wrong with that.

You're demonstrating interest in others, demonstrating brotherly love, touching the lives of others. Yes, but if it causes you to neglect your own business, then it's too much. It's too much. You've got to get the balance here.

You've got to pull it back. You've got to have an appropriate privacy where you are spending the majority of your time on your own affairs and not involved all the time in the lives of others. And of course, sometimes it goes beyond innocent and helpful socializing into the area of sinful gossip.

And that line can be crossed so very, very easily, can't it? TV is another area. We don't need to go into all of these things. And all of these things may be causing us to take an inordinate interest in the lives of others. Facebook. Some of you, and I'm on Facebook, so I'm not telling you Facebook is a sin. I wouldn't be able to tell you what I'm going to tell you next if I weren't on Facebook, but I check it two or three times a day, see what messages may have come up.

It's helpful for me to know what's going on. My first announcement of the birth of James Hudson McKinley came on Facebook. I wouldn't have known that when I did if I hadn't seen that on Facebook. It's also because I'm on Facebook that I know some of you have wisely at times said, I'm deleting my Facebook account. I'm spending too much time there. And you disappeared for a few months. Did I miss you? I forgot that you weren't there until you came back and said, Yoo-hoo, I'm back.

Oh yeah, I'd forgotten that you used to be there and then you weren't there and now you're back. But yeah, Facebook can consume hours and hours and hours of your time every day. Facebook in itself can be a useful tool.

Facebook that becomes dominant, that becomes inordinate, can become a sinful distraction from mind, your own business, take care of business at home, take care of your responsibilities, and don't allow these other things to distract you. Some people don't seem to have the wisdom to know when they have become a social leech smothering others with too much attention. And the people who are this way never see it in themselves, unfortunately. Other people see it. If you find when you when you start trying to develop a social relationship, if you find over and over again that almost every time people start pulling away from it, let me tell you what's probably going on.

You're overdoing it. It's a good thing to develop healthy social relationships. But some people, if they find somebody who's willing to be their friend, willing to develop a social relationship, just are like a leech. They just reach out and grab on with both claws and clamp on with their teeth and they won't let go until the other person almost has to beat them off. Get me out of here.

Get me free from this overbearing relationship. That's what Paul is talking about. Mind your own business. I know people who have become incredible experts on COVID vaccines. They know everything about everyone that was ever tried. That's useful. If I need information, I could go to them and get it.

Nothing wrong with that. But I know some people who are experts about vaccine, but they're not experts about their own business. They're experts about vaccines or fill in the blank. I mean, it could be a hundred or two hundred other things that people become experts in. But all the while neglecting their own responsibilities, neglecting their own work either at home or on the job. What Paul is telling us is that we need enough interest in others to minister appropriately. Brotherly love demands that, but not so much that we neglect our own responsibilities. And so the third area that we must keep in mind if we're going to honor the Lord with our lives is that there be an appropriate privacy about us.

We don't intrude ourselves into the lives of others inordinately. We don't involve ourselves in things outside our God appointed responsibilities to the neglect of those things that God has given us. And finally, number four is a wholesome work ethic.

And that brings us to the last part of verse 11 and to verse 12. 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. A wholesome work ethic to work with your own hands. Paul talks about gainful employment and tells us a twofold result that comes when we are diligent in this and makes us understand that this is basic Christian doctrine.

In the Greek world, there was a philosophy and it permeated of course the Roman world. There was a Greek philosophy that manual labor is demeaning. It's only for slaves and free men and women aren't involved in that. And so there was this disdain for manual labor and unwillingness to do it which caused some people who didn't have their own resources, didn't have slaves to do their work for them and so forth, to latch on to rich patrons and sponge off of them. And this was considered more honorable than working with your hands.

Paul says no. You need to labor with your own hands. But in the Jewish world, the attitude was very different. In the Jewish world, manual labor was considered to be honorable and desirable to the extent that everyone was taught a trade, no matter how wealthy, no matter what kind of life they were going into.

The apostle Paul, who became a learned rabbi, a PhD, a THD, an advanced teacher in his day, nevertheless, before he reached that pinnacle, had already learned how to make tents. He had a trade, as did every Jewish boy. Every Jewish man, and I presume many of the women as well, I don't know as much about them, but every Jewish man had a trade to work with his hands. Every one of them was a carpenter, a tent maker, a craftsman of some kind or another, something they could always fall back on, something they could pursue along with their other pursuits when that was needed. They could always work with their hands, and it was never thought to be dishonorable. In fact, it was considered to be very honorable. Now, which of those two attitudes, the Greek or the Jewish one, is the Christian one?

Well, it's the second one. Paul makes that clear. A God-honoring life means that you labor with your hands, to work with your own hands as we commanded you. And there's a twofold result from this. There's number one, community respect, and number two, financial independence.

What's the result? Verse 12, that you may walk properly toward those who are outside, and number two, that you may lack nothing. Walk properly toward those who are outside.

It is a testimony to unbelievers. Even in a world influenced by the Greek attitude, there was a certain respect for people who worked to pay their own way rather than those who sponged off of others. Be that kind of person, said Paul.

Become financially independent. Each person should endeavor to provide for his own needs and for those of his own family, as Paul makes clear in 1 Timothy. And this is a basic doctrine of the Christian faith. We've already commanded you this, as we have commanded you about this. You received previous instructions about the honor and responsibility to work and support yourself.

You are now receiving present instructions about the honorability of work and supporting yourself. And you are going to receive, Paul doesn't know this yet, but he will, we know it now, you are going to receive yet future instructions about the same thing, because apparently the instructions that Paul gave in the city of Thessalonica, and the instructions Paul gave in 1 Thessalonians, didn't find lodging in the mind of everybody in the church. And so when we come to 2 Thessalonians, we get an extensive and sharp section about this, where Paul says, but we command you brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw yourself from every brother who walks disorderly. What is disorderly walking? And not according to the tradition of the teaching which you received from us.

But what is that? For you yourselves know how you ought to follow us, for we were not disorderly among you, nor did we eat anyone's bread free of charge, but worked with labor and toil night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, not because we do not have authority, but to make ourselves an example of how you should follow us. For even when we were with you, we commanded you this, if anyone will not work, neither shall he eat. If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat. For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies.

Now those who are such, we command you and exhort you through our Lord Jesus Christ, that they work in quietness and eat their own bread. It's a pretty serious matter, as Paul makes clear. Which brings me then in my final few moments to pull some of these things together and give all of us guidelines for Christian benevolence.

Now I have a number of things here, you won't be able to write them all down, so just listen. Number one, brotherly love requires that we help those in need. Brotherly love requires that we help those in need. Number two, the Christian work ethic requires that we do not subsidize idleness and financial mismanagement. The Christian work ethic requires that we do not subsidize idleness and financial mismanagement.

You see, we've got to get the balance here as well. Number three, financial independence requires both diligent labor and good resource management. That is especially true in our day with the consumer society, with all of the easy credit, with all of the borrowing, all the credit cards, none of these things were true of course in Paul's day.

And it is so easy to buy things that you can't afford. Which means that there are people who actually have decent paying jobs, but they're still in trouble all the time financially. Not because they haven't worked, but because they haven't learned to discipline themselves to hold back on their inordinate desires, to rein in their covetousness, and to mismanage their finances. And so, number four, we must resist the temptation to be selfish and unwilling to give. But number five, we must resist the attitude that others ought to bail me out, the entitlement attitude.

It's amazing how so many people are expert in what others should do and so ignorant about what they themselves should do. There are some people who can see very clearly other people ought to be helping me, and they can't see that they ought to be working hard and managing their affairs so that they don't need to be drawing resources from others. Therefore, number six, those who are unwilling to help others are not living in Christian love. But number seven, those who impose upon the generosity of others are not living in Christian love either.

Did you hear that? Those who are unwilling to give are not living in Christian love, but those who impose upon the generosity of others are not living in Christian love. Those unable to work should be helped by the church. Those unable to work should be helped by the church. Those able to work should be helped to find a job. The church can help there too.

Listen to me. To fail to help those we ought to help is sinful disobedience. To subsidize those who ought not to be subsidized is, listen to me, sinful disobedience. To fail to help those who ought to be helped is sinful disobedience. To subsidize those who ought not to be subsidized is also sinful disobedience.

If a man will not work, neither shall he eat. Therefore, when it comes to Christian benevolence, it requires knowledge, wisdom, love, and grace. We need to have a knowledge of God's word, what it says.

We don't know what the Bible teaches in this realm. We need knowledge. Number two, we need wisdom. Wisdom is how to apply knowledge to everyday living.

Wisdom is how to take what the Bible says and apply it to this current situation. We need wisdom. Number three, we need love. We need brotherly love and we need it in great measures because we are all tempted to be too selfish. And number four, we need grace to be able to do what the Bible says in a gracious and God-honoring way and to really help people, really help them in the areas where they need help. Shall we pray? Oh, Father, there is much that we need to learn in order to live a God-honoring life. To teach us Thy ways and show us Thy paths and guide us into Thy truth, we ask in Jesus' name. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-09-22 13:31:55 / 2023-09-22 13:50:36 / 19

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