July 10, 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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“So then, we must not sleep, like the rest, but we must stay awake and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. Since we are of the day, we must be sober and put on the armor of faith and love on our chests, and put on the helmet of the hope of salvation. For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord, Messiah Jesus, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him. Therefore, encourage one another and build each other up as you are already doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:6-11
For the past few weeks, I’ve been working in my yard. Some people like working in their yards. When you visit their homes, it’s like entering a luxury resort. My wife grew up in a “yard family.” She can look at a vacant lot and envision a beautiful garden.
When I see a vacant lot, I think, “Lucky guys; no yard work.” I grew up in a family that prayed for August so the grass would die and we wouldn’t have to mow it! Yes, our neighbors hated us!
I don’t like yard work because I simply don’t have a vision for what my labor could produce. All that digging and clipping, with no immediate gratification…shrubs just don’t grow fast enough! Sometimes, being a follower of Jesus can seem like self-sacrificing work with no foreseeable payoff. It’s easy to get impatient, especially if we can’t visualize what we’re working towards.
The congregation at Thessalonica had problems understanding what it meant to wait on the Lord. They had to learn to patiently endure the work of faith and the labor of love with hope. The primary purpose of Paul’s letter was to provide the Thessalonians with an accurate vision of what their faithfulness (and faithlessness) would yield.
Paul describes the abstract concepts of “faith, hope & love” with action-oriented terms to motivate the Thessalonians. Impatient people need a sense of momentum. In chapter 1, Paul referenced the “Work of faith, labor of love, and endurance of hope.” Later, he boils them down to “turning, serving, and waiting.” In today’s chapter, he uses military terms.
Perhaps, you are feeling impatient or even bored with (seemingly) rote Christian activities like Bible reading, prayer, or church service. It is important to remember we are amidst a raging spiritual war. While we may not be experiencing a direct attack, someone around you probably is! Eventually, we are all attacked. If we can visualize the war in the light of our overwhelming spiritual “ammunition,” we can endure our battles with hope for the victory.
By the way, my yard is starting to take shape…by my wife’s direction and my shoveling.