Have you ever known someone with the ability to bring out the very best in others? You know, those kind of people that motivate us to soar beyond our abilities and to accomplish things we never dreamed we could.
Would you like to be that kind of person? If so, stay with us. Welcome to this Edition of Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram. The mission of these daily programs is to intentionally disciple Christians through the Bible teaching of Chip Ingram. In just a minute, he'll continue our series, Lift the Awesome Power of Encouragement. For the past several programs, Chip's been walking through the book of 1 Thessalonians, pinpointing the keys to giving and receiving encouragement.
Now, if you've missed any part of this teaching, you can catch up anytime at livingontheedge.org or through the Chip Ingram app. Well, with that, let's get going and join Chip for his talk, How to Bring Out the Very Best in Others, from 1 Thessalonians Chapter 4. You know, every now and then you find yourself in a situation where you need to be of help to someone. You need to inspire them. You need to bring out the very best in them. But it's hard. You feel stuck.
Not sure exactly how to go about it. We're going to learn that everyone needs someone at some time to give them something in order to become the someone they long to become. Sounds like a tongue twister, doesn't it? It really is. But think about it. It's true.
Everyone needs someone at some time to give them the something in order to become the someone you long to become. I had a time when I had some major issues going on in my life, and hindsight is 20-20. I was only going into seventh grade. Came into a large junior high, 800 or 900 students. I was the shortest and skinniest kid of all the boys or girls. At least when I was in elementary school, my claim to fame was I was the smallest but the fastest. And now I went into junior high and I was just the smallest.
People kept growing and they ran right by me. And so I did what happens when you feel very insecure and you go through junior high years, you don't feel very good about yourself. And I became a real arrogant smart aleck and I covered up all my insecurities with my mouth.
And so I acted like I really had it together and I would put people down and became obnoxious so that people would reject me, which helped reinforce how insecure I was. Well, there was a fellow named Coach Lance and Neil Lance saw beneath the little arrogant kid's mouth and somehow saw some potential. He was my P.E. teacher.
I ended up three years there. He ended up coaching me. I ended up working for him in my college years painting houses. But he motivated me. And he motivated me to see beyond my own horizons. As I got around him, somehow he saw something in me. He wanted to bring out the best in me. And he did it in such a way that I began to dream new dreams, things that would really matter. And then after motivating me and beginning to feel better about myself, then he instructed me. He taught me.
I thought it was about basketball. But when I look back, he was teaching me about life. He spent time.
I mean, even before class, after class, during lunch periods, three or four days a week. He and I alone in the gym one on one. He taught me how to play, taught me how to shoot, taught me how to play defense. But there was a little talk before and a little talk afterwards about life and about values and work and principles and honesty. And then it was like he had eyes and he would look just to see whenever I did something right, I'd play in a game. And he'd, hey, you did well, Chip.
You did this. He knew what the temptation was with my mouth. And whenever he saw me even mildly keep it shut, he'd encourage me and affirm me. And he not only motivated me, instructed me and affirmed me, but he cared enough that he corrected me.
I'll still never forget. I was in his office and now it's my ninth grade year. And you know, some of you that are teachers or from your childhood, you know when you get real close with a teacher and you get a little too familiar and you cross that line with Neil Lance, you crossed it once. And so I'm in his office, you know, downstairs near the locker room. And he says something and I had this role.
It's just me and him. I say this real smart aleck type thing. I'll never forget. This is in the old days. He grabs my shirt with both hands. No, not brutally, not brutality, nothing. And he put me up against the wall like this. And I slid down to that chair and then he bent over and he got right in my face.
He said, Ingram, I'm going to tell you something right now. That mouth of yours is going to get you in trouble. He said, you're ending ninth grade right now and you're going to go across to that big building.
There's fifteen hundred, tenth, eleventh and twelfth graders. And you're going to open your mouth like that and some junior or senior is going to stick his fist right through it and you will deserve it. And I want you to know something, you loud mouth smart aleck kid. I care about you too much for you to mess up your life like that.
Do you got it? I don't think it's an accident that after seven different majors in college, I made sure I kept the educational opportunity open. That I taught, that I coached, that after all those years and all that time practicing that really I went to play college ball because of Neil Lance.
I ended up playing ball around the seas because of Neil Lance. I became a pastor because I went overseas. My life has been shaped. My life has been shaped because someone understood how to bring out the best in another individual.
Far more, far greater than I could ever ever see. And this morning we are going to learn from scripture how you can be that person in someone else's life. You can bring out the best. You can be the coach Lance in their life and when they get in their thirties and forties and fifties they'll look back and it'll be your face, it'll be your voice, it'll be the things you said and the things that you did and they'll say because of you, my life is different.
And if you want to learn how to do that, the Apostle Paul models it for us in 1 Thessalonians 4, 1 to 12. We're going to learn that there's four keys to inspiring others, to bringing out the best in their life. The first one is you got to motivate them.
You got to help them soar beyond their present horizon. Secondly, you have to teach them and we're going to learn you have to teach them in the most strategic arena of their life. Third, then you have to affirm them and you have to affirm them in the areas where they're making the most progress and then finally you have to correct them whenever their attitudes or their actions are thwarting the progress that God wants them to make. And you're going to see here the Apostle Paul with, I mean, supernatural divine wisdom takes this church in the center of a pagan, pagan culture and they've been growing for about 18 months, maybe two years and he writes this letter and he's going to take people that are really making progress and he's going to take them to the next level because he's going to model inspirational encouragement. As he motivates them, here's what he does.
You might want to jot this down in your notes if you have a pen. Motivate them to soar beyond their present horizons. That's what motivation is. Motivation isn't hype, not good motivation. Motivation is helping someone soar beyond their present horizon.
So many of us can only see here. Motivation helps you see who you can really become and what you can really accomplish. Under that you might jot down the first key is to appeal to the highest level of meaning and purpose. The problem with a lot of motivation, it's too cheap, it's too short and it's too meaningless.
Motivate people to get wealthy, motivate people to just be successful, motivate people to be the best ball player, the best dancer, the best musician. Why? Well, so they can earn a lot of money. Why? So they can be rich and famous. Why? So they can move to Southern California. Why? So they can be in Hollywood. Why?
So they can be depressed, divorced and messed up. Now, listen to the Apostle Paul, verse 1. He says, finally brothers, we instructed or you received our teaching about how to live in order to please God. See, he appeals to the various highest level of meaning and purpose. He says, I don't want to motivate you to some small time temporal achievement. He says, do you remember our instructions? You have the potential to please the living God of the universe.
Now, that's up there pretty high. Notice he goes on, as in fact you are now living. See, not only do you appeal to the highest level of meaning and purpose, but secondly, you do it positively. You know, is he saying they're perfect?
No way. He's saying this is where you were, you've trusted Christ, you're making progress, and your lives right now are pleasing God. Can you imagine how motivating it would be to get that kind of word from someone like the Apostle Paul?
Or can you imagine how motivating it would be for some kid or some person or some friend to hear from you that they're really pleasing God? But he goes on. He teaches them that beyond that, that when you motivate someone, it's not just appealing to the highest level of meaning and purpose and it's not just doing it positively. He's going to do it as a fellow traveler and remind them that this whole journey of growth is a process.
Look what he says. He says now we ask you, and the term means from one equal to another. He's a fellow journeyman, a believer in this trek we call life. He says now we ask you and we urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. He says you're pleasing God already, you're making great progress, but he says excel more. What's the message? The message is is the horizon is always moving.
You never arrive, you make progress. And then notice what's the goal of his motivation? It's not his agenda.
It's not even their agenda. Look at verse two. Verse two says for you know what instructions, this is a different word than the earlier word. This is command or order for you know what orders or instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus.
Do you see what he's saying? You motivate people to fulfill God's agenda. There's a lot of wealthy, successful people that really aren't experiencing all what God wants for their life. And there's some wealthy, successful people that are experiencing all of what God wants for him. The issue when you motivate another person is appeal to the highest level of meaning and purpose, and that's to please God. And so the goal is not so they fulfill their agenda, not so they fulfill your agenda.
What is it? They fulfill God's agenda, his will. And that's the first step. And by the way, I think we need to take motivation seriously.
It's a multi multi billion dollar industry. Companies have understood that you know when people aren't motivated, they don't do much. We need to understand as believers, we need to look into one another's eyes and realize we need to motivate, we need to encourage, we need to lift the horizons where people begin to sense and feel and believe they could do what they never dreamed they could do. Motivation is not enough, though. Motivation without education is what is hype. It's just blowing smoke. You can do it. It'll be great. I can see it.
No, no, no, no. You got to raise the level and then you have to give instruction and teaching so they can fulfill God's agenda. Teach them in the most strategic area of their life. The idea teach them when you want to help someone. There's a million things in scripture to teach him. You can't teach him everything.
Teach him the most strategic area in their life that will produce life change. Now, I don't know about you, but if someone did a good inventory of my life, I got 10, 12, 15 areas that need improvement. I can't work on all of them. If I would go to a mentor who would love me and care for me, a wise mentor would say, Chip, there's 10 or 12 areas that really need some work. But as I've prayed and pondered, this one is the key. Five or six of them all revolve around your inability to trust God in this area. That's what we're going to work on for the next six months.
And when that happens, then monumental growth would occur. Apostle Paul is going to do that. He's writing to a group of people that are in a incredibly secular, I mean really secular world.
There is temples on every corner. There is immorality like you can't imagine. The average Thessalonian man who just came to Christ, he has a wife and the wife's job is to stay at home, not be seen, not do anything, burying children and heirs.
Most of them would have a mistress. That was for fun. And then just if you were kind of having a low day, I guess all the pagan temples had prostitutes because a part of pagan worship and they were at every corner, a part of pagan worship was sexual acts.
It's amazing. You know, they kind of were working to get their cake and eat it too. Let's really worship God. And so all these young girls were taken into temple prostitution. Now it is a place where sexual purity is unheard of, where the holiness of God is denied. So guess where the Apostle Paul, what's the most strategic area to teach them in? He's going to teach him God's not a prude. He's going to teach him that God is holy, God is loving, God is compassionate and God is good. And he's going to teach him that your present sexual practice is separating you from God.
There's a huge price tag that you're paying. It's unworthy of your calling and your life is not a testimony to the world. And so he's going to teach him three ways.
Let me give you the first one. First, he's going to explain clearly what God's will is. We instruct people to fulfill God's agenda.
Doesn't it make sense? Tell them what his will is. Not your will, not the church's will, not an organization's will, not the denomination's will, not what your grandfather believed. What is the will of God? Well, where do you find the will of God? It's in the word. So notice what he says, verse three, for it is God's will that you should be sanctified.
The word means set apart, be holy, pure, undefiled. And then he elaborates, namely that you should avoid or abstain sexual immorality. He says, let me tell you the will of God.
You guys are doing great. You're growing. You've come into this absolutely secular, sex saturated world. And he says to him, hey, this is the will of God. And the will of God is that you be sexually pure. You can do a little study on this phrase, and it means that you be sexually pure in your mind. It means you don't have lustful thoughts.
Remember Matthew five, Jesus said, when you lust for a woman in your heart, you've committed adultery. It's about your thought life. It's also about sexual purity vicariously.
You know, there's some people that would never think of hopping into bed with someone other than their mate, but live on pornography, soap operas and romance novels and vicariously lived through sexual fantasy. He says, no, you need to be pure. And third, not only our thought life or vicarious expression, but in our relationships. This is saying God wants us as believers for our good because of his character and his love. He wants us to be sexually pure. He's saying this phrase. It is the will of God.
And here's the boundaries and inside the boundaries. One man, one woman, sex after marriage as the fulfillment of depth and commitment and communication. Any other sexual expression by single people or married people or same sex people is out of bounds. Now, that's what the Bible teaches. And you say, well, that sounds pretty prudish to me.
Of course, let's do a little cost benefit analysis. Wonder what life was like when this was a moral fabric of our culture. The divorce rate was minuscule. We didn't have AIDS then.
Genital herpes was a rare commodity. Families weren't fractured. People weren't paying financially for paternity suits. We didn't have the great majority of people going into marriage with psychological and emotional scars. We hadn't done the research and we didn't know that people that are promiscuous before they're married have less satisfying sex lives after they're married.
See, we didn't have a lot of the junk and the price tag that we have now. But see, God knew. And so once you explain God's will to him, that's verse three. Now, notice in verses four and five, when you want to explain God's will, I think here's what he does. Tell it like it is with conviction.
He's going to expand on this. Tell it like it is with conviction. We have a lot of people that when it gets down to some sensitive subjects, we kind of waffle. Well, you know, I'm not really sure what the Bible says about. I'm real sure what the Bible says. I may not like it and it may be hard, but I mean, this is not one of those. I wonder what God really thinks about sex.
You know what every college person always ask you at a conference? I want to know the will of God. Can you tell me what the will of God for my life? So here's one of the passages I always turn to. Sure, it says right here, the will of God for your life is you be sexually pure.
Makes those conversations pretty short, you know. Notice now, though, how to say it. When you communicate and you want to inspire people, there's a balance in verses three to five. You tell it like it is with conviction, but lest you get too uptight in verses six through eight, you tell it why it is with compassion. And what we're going to see is, see, Paul's not down on these people, but they're in a culture much like ours and he wants them to hear the truth, but he wants to hear it in grace. So three through five is the truth. Six through eight, he gives some grace. So let's look at it. Verse four, he says, what's this sexual immorality?
What's it look like? It's that each of you should learn. The word means to habitually learn and make a practice in your life. Learn to control his own body or vessel in a way that is holy and honorable. He states it positively.
He said every single believer and vessel and I get and around the world, you should learn to get a hold of this human body and that you should operate in such a way in the sexual arena that it is holy and that is honorable. That means every thought that goes through your head, whether you're at the beach, which may not be a good place to keep those good thoughts, men going through your head or whether you're in a movie or whether you're in the office is the thoughts that are in your head are pure, holy and honorable. It means that every relationship with the opposite sex is one where you don't feel guilty. You don't feel ashamed. You don't feel bad. You don't feel like you're violating. You know, you could stand before God and know that whether you're married or single, that my relationships with the opposite sex are holy and honorable.
Notice the negative side. He goes on to say, not by contrast and passionate lust like the heathen who do not know God. And so he tells it like it is, and he tells it with conviction.
Why? Because God's approved because we're puritanical because we haven't come out of the ice age. No, it's because God cares so much. In verses six through eight, he's going to give us three specific reasons why this is the smartest, most logical, beneficial thing for you and all the people you're trying to help. In verse six, he's going to teach us that why is because it harms others. Sexual purity is crucial because when we're immoral, it harms others. In verse seven, he's going to say it's going to harm you. End of seven, he's going to say it's inconsistent with your high calling.
So let's look at it. Reason number one, he says, look, compassionately, now the tone changes. He says, don't have sex outside of a monogamous marital relationship because one, it harms other people. Verse six, and in this matter, what matter? In the matter of sexual purity, no one should wrong, it means trespass sin against his brother or take advantage of him.
That means defraud. See, Paul had this holistic view about life, unlike us. He had this picture that, okay, there's all these men, there's all these women. If I get involved in immorality or you get involved in immorality and you sleep with this person, that person, this person, that person, and that person, and they sleep with this person, that person, and that person, the day is going to come when they marry someone. And when they marry that someone, God's plan, because sex is holy and sacred and he's actually for it.
Don't let this out. He invented it and he invented it for pleasure procreation and the joy of his children. It's not dirty. It's not evil. It's not bad. God's really pro sex. But when you have it with other people, then the person who shows up at wedding night with someone else that you've had sex with is a used commodity. You've defrauded your brother.
You've defrauded your sister. You've been listening to part one of Chip's message, How to Bring Out the Very Best in Others, which is from our series, Lift the Awesome Power of Encouragement. Chip will be back with us in studio shortly to share some helpful application for us to think about. In this 12-part study, Chip opens the book of 1 Thessalonians and unpacks the Apostle Paul's game plan to encourage fellow believers. He shares practical ways we can love and bring hope to those we care about, and explains how when we help, support, and just do life with one another, our faith grows too. For more information about this series or our many resources, visit livingontheedge.org.
That's livingontheedge.org. Well, before we go on, Chip's back in studio with me now. Chip, I can see you're wanting to jump in here for a second and share something with our listeners.
Why don't you go ahead and take a minute and do that? Thanks, Dave. I want to talk to those of you who partner with us financially. Your gifts help us not just stay on the air, but they provide the necessary funding to create curriculum and develop our website and provide resources at extraordinarily reasonable prices. I mean, your giving is making an amazing impact, so thank you very, very much.
And for those of you that are enjoying the benefits of Living on the Edge, but you haven't yet become a financial partner, would you consider doing that today? Your gifts are going to get invested right back into the ministry to assist us to develop resources, stay on the air, and help Christians live like Christians. I mean, is there ever a day when we need to make a difference?
Well, it's now. Will you help us? Thanks, Chip. As you prayerfully consider your role in this ministry, I want to remind you that every gift is significant.
When you partner with Living on the Edge, you multiply our efforts and resources in incredible ways. Make your donation at livingonthedge.org or through the Chip Ingram app. Or if it's easier, text DONATE to 74141. That's the word DONATE to 74141.
We appreciate your help. Well, here again is Chip to pass along a few final thoughts. You know it's interesting as we listen to the message together today about how Paul inspires and motivates. We ended on a very, very serious note where he talks about sexual purity. But the context here, he began by motivating them, talking about how they could really please God. And I don't know about you, but this area of sexuality, sexual purity, if you're in the process of discipling, teaching, helping other people, or if you know some people that you know this is the barrier that's holding them back from really walking with God. You know, Paul gives us a model here about how to talk to them. Let's walk through the model because those of us that are committed to seeing people grow in their relationship with Christ, you have to confront tough issues. And he models for us how you do it.
One, you motivate, and then you teach. When you want to help someone with sexual purity, the first step is show them clearly what's the will of God. It's not ought. It's not should.
It's not your tradition or your background or what other people think. It's not some effort to make them feel guilty. Paul says in verse three, this is the will of God, your sanctification, namely that you be sexually pure. In other words, this is God's idea. The second thing he does is he tells it like it is. He's very clear and with conviction, he says, look, you know, this is unpopular in our day. In Paul's day, I mean, people were sleeping around as much or more than in our day. This was not a popular message, but with conviction, he tells them, look, here's some reasons with conviction and compassion that you can't afford to be doing life sexually apart from God's will. It harms others, defrauding. It will harm you.
And we know all that stuff. And third, it's inconsistent with who you are in Christ. And so let me ask you first, where are you at in this area of sexual purity? I don't mean just actual actions, but in your thought life, in what you view, are you pure? You see anything less than that is less than God's best for you.
Second, is there someone that you know that you have a sense of responsibility for and love for that really need to hear this area needs to be addressed? You know, as believers, we've got to be pure. And if we don't speak the truth to one another in the body of Christ, confront one another, you know what? We're not going to be pure.
You don't have to be down on people. You don't have to come down strong, but share the word of God, the will of God, do it in love, give the reasons why, and then invite them to follow Christ in purity. You will be giving them the most inspiring, gracious gift you could ever offer.
Thanks, Chip. And as we close, I want you to know that as a staff, we ask the Lord to help you take whatever your next faith step is. Now, if there's a way we can help, we'd love to do that. Give us a call at 888-333-6003 or connect with us at livingontheedge.org. And while you're there, take a moment and look through our resources on various topics, many of them absolutely free. We'll listen next time as Chip continues his series, Lift the Awesome Power of Encouragement. Until then, I'm Dave Druey saying thanks for joining us for this Edition of Living on the Edge.
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