July 9, 2022
“Finally then, brothers, we ask and encourage you in the Lord Jesus, that as you have received from us how you must walk and please God – as you are doing...”
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“Finally then, brothers, we ask and encourage you in the Lord Jesus, that as you have received from us how you must walk and please God – as you are doing – do so even more.” 1 Thessalonians 4:1
There are basically two types of slaves: those forced into it and those who willingly apply for it.
Many people have an inappropriate view of Jewish Biblical slave life. They have the Alex Haley “Roots” and Cecil B. DeMille “10 Commandments” views, where the slaves are constantly beaten. Of course, the Israelites were slaves in Egypt and, under foreign oppression, were beaten. But within the nation of Israel, there was voluntary slavery, which was not usually physically brutal.
I’m not making a case for slavery. I believe it’s cruel and inhumane. I’m just saying that Paul’s use of slave imagery was received more positively in his day than in ours. Jewish slaves within the national Hebrew life were more respected and treated better than those of, say, the American Civil War era.
Accounts given by former slaves after the U.S. civil war told how they got through the day. The overall goal was to do as little as possible but just enough to avoid the whip. That is, they didn’t want to honor their oppressors, yet they didn’t want to provoke them either.
Some Believers in Jesus have adopted the “forced slave” mentality. They want to know exactly how much “Jesus” it takes to avoid Hell without having to serve their Master by living a Christ-centered life.
Who has forced us to believe in Messiah that we would take that attitude? Have we not chosen, of our own free will, to be His slaves and servants on this earth? Why, then, would we settle to do as little as possible with our Christian lives and simply skate through life? Why would we not give ourselves in faithful thanksgiving that God has invited us to serve Him?
Paul addresses the believers in Thessalonica by encouraging the progress they had made. But Paul goes further. He says, “As you are doing – do so even more.” While there are legitimate times of rest and refreshment, the momentum of our lives should always be moving forward and upward. We have come a long way since we became believers in Messiah Jesus; God be praised! Here’s our challenge: Let’s go further!