As for other matters, brothers and sisters, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. – 1Thess. 4:1 NIV
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The Church in Thessalonica was one that was founded by the Apostle Paul during his second Missionary journey. For a location where Bible historians noted that he spent barely three sabbaths teaching, his impact was really massive as the product of his Evangelism activities manifested greatly, the fruits of the spirit which was clearly evident amongst the non-believing gentiles who resided in the city of Thessalonica – Acts 17:2; 1Thess. 2:13-16. Like a farmer who has planted a good seed on a fertile ground, he never stopped watering the his efforts by constantly monitoring the growth and development of the Thessalonian Church and making the right intervention where and when necessary, in a bid to continue to encourage them during the persecutions that resulted from their decision to accept the new teaching of Jesus Christ. This is the same persecution that started during the time of Apostle Paul in Thessalonica and his departure did not stop it, if anything, it gave the persecutors greater impetus to haunt down all those who chose to accept the new mode of worship.
Although the Apostle could not return to Thessalonica, he never stopped longing to hear from them as he considers them the hope, joy and crown which they as heralds of the message, intend to glory in when Jesus Christ returns – 1Thess. 2:17-19. It is in this desire and aspirations, similar to the emotion that he bears for other Churches that were established through him, and restrictions of not being able to visit them physically, that he sent Timothy to check on them to know how they are faring amidst the hostile situation that they found themselves. The positive report that Timothy came back with about the state of their faith was most encouraging and this prompted his having to write his first letter to them – 1Thess. 3:1-9. He seized the same opportunity to advise them, in the scripture that is the foundation of today’s Devotional, on the need for them to ensure that they continue to live to please God – 1Thess. 4:1. Although he acknowledged that they were already doing that, his intention was to ensure that they do not for any reason stop living that way, if anything, they should be more resolved to continue along that path. In his letter, he cited the following areas that will help them to live a life pleasing to the Almighty God;
- They should remain sanctified and avoid sexual immorality, advising in the process that they should learn to control their body in a way that is holy and honourable, and not in passionate lust like the heathen who do not know God – 1Thess. 4:3-5. This is because, the call of God was not into impurity but into holiness and whoever rejects this instruction is actually rejecting God, who gave man His Holy Spirit – 1Thess. 4:7-8. Physical and spiritual sanctity remains a key factor that must be observed by the one who desires to live a life pleasing to the Lord – Exo. 19:10-13. The Apostle Paul is however not aware of the natural tendency of man towards immorality which is why he used the word “learn”. The one that intends to live a life free of immorality will need to learn and will also require a teacher but above all, learning being a process, it will require that fellow brethren be conscious of this fact and so will need to be cautious on how they react to people who are still learning and are developing.
- Therefore, in this very matter, he advised that no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him – 1Thess. 4:6. In preaching, teaching and enforcing this doctrine, everyone will need to be careful not to hurt the one who belongs to the fold but is involved in such wrong doings, more so take advantage of such an individual. To wrong someone in this instance will mean to treat someone unfairly, unjustly or cruelly because such as fallen short of the above standard whilst to take advantage of someone will mean to profit selfishly on the disadvantaged position of such a person especially when the situation is self-inflicted. In Paul’s opinion, not doing any of the above would be a godly way of demonstrating brotherly love, an opinion that is consistent with him, as he had on another occasion advised the brethren in Galatia to restore a brother who had fallen back to the right path in love – Gal. 6:1. Although, he acknowledged the love they have extended to fellow brothers throughout Macedonia, he urged them to do so more and more – 1Thess. 4:9-10.
- They should also make it their ambition to lead a quiet life – 1Thess. 4:11a. As far as the Apostle Paul is concerned, the thought and desire to live a quiet life must be paramount in the mind of the one who desires to live a life pleasing to the Lord. To live a quiet life is to seek peace and this must be sought and deliberately preserved when attained – Psa. 34:14. The one who desires a quiet life will avoid move away from evil and seek to do good always.
- They should mind their own business – 1Thess. 4:11b. The one who intends to live a life pleasing to the Lord must not be a busybody – 1Tim. 5:13; 1Pet. 4:15. The one who does not mind his/her business will always be a tale bearer of news that will likely disrupt peace of others. Such a person can never live a life pleasing to the Lord.
- They should learn to work with their own hands so that they can earn the respect of outsiders and not have to dependent on anyone – 1Thess. 4:11c-12. It will be impossible for the one who does not work with his/her own hands to avoid being a beggar and in the process bringing the name of God into disrepute. Such can never live a life pleasing to the Lord.
Although the above points are in no way exhaustive for anyone who wishes to live a life pleasing to the Almighty God, they are sufficient to lay a solid foundation for achieving such lofty goals. It will remain a completely wasted life and a hypocritical one at that, if all the Christian acts of an individual are not pleasing to the Almighty God. It is not about how an individual is perceived by men but how much the actions of such is acceptable and pleasing to his creator. The one who desires to please God at all times will consider using the advise of the Apostle Paul as the guiding principle for his/her life. That is the only chance that such has to ensure that all those Christian activities do not amount to loss on the last day. Do all you can to please Him and you can be assured of your eternal rewards. May God help us lead and live a life that will be pleasing to Him in Jesus name. Amen.