Monday, July 21, 2008

SOAP - 7/21/08 (1 Thess 4:1-8)


1 Thessalonians 4:1-8

"Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you."


Verses that stuck out to me are:

"...we ask and urge you...that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more."

"For this is the will of God, your sanctification..."

"For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you."


"Now let me get to the point of this letter. Please listen to us as we ask you, in our Lord Jesus, to live in the manner we taught you; a manner that pleases God. To an extent, you are doing this, but we want to urge you to do it more and more. We gave you specific instructions through our Lord Jesus. It is God's will that you continually set yourself apart from the world. Refrain from doing immoral sexual acts. Each one of you needs to control his/her body. This is a holy thing which the world does not do (a world that does not know God), and it is honorable not to give into the passionate lusts which lead to such acts. When you do these things you are intentionally sinning against your brother and you shouldn't be. We told you (warned you!) when we were with you that God would avenge such acts. God has called you to be apart of the world, but to be separate from it. If anyone disregards this they are not disregarding man but God who has given you the Holy Spirit who reminds you not to do these things."

What is God saying?

It think that this letter was written for two reasons. One, as a father who is proud of his children and two, a letter of encouragement to do the right things. I would guess, by the tone of this passage, that Timothy might have brought back a report that someone in the church had committed adultery. Like I said, I'm only guessing, but the rest of the letter is instruction or clarification on some things.

What is interesting is to see how Paul approaches the Thessalonians. Even if he had some burden weighing on his heart that he really wanted to address he begins by expressing his love. If it were me I'd probably jump right to the rebuke, but I know of and teach a method of confrontation that is not to dissimilar to what Paul does here. I call it the hamburger approach. I don't remember who taught it to me but it goes something like this. A hamburger is comprised of three main parts: a top bun, a meat pattie and a bottom bun. When in situations of correcting or rebuking we need to approach people by sandwiching the correction/rebuke inbetween love. We start out by conveying love, we hit the problem and we end with love.

There are a couple of reasons why we do this. First, it conveys to the person we are correcting/rebuking that we are doing it because we love them. Second, it reminds us that we love the other person and we correct/rebuke in an attitude of love. Without conveying love we can jump right to the issue and miss the point completely. The point is to restore a person, not tear them down. Paul does this with the Thessalonians.

So I see God saying "Correct and rebuke out of love. When you do either of these things always show love." In essence, what we really are doing is encouraging people to continue to transform. I love how Paul says "You have been doing these things, but do them more!!!!" We never stop growing in our likeness of Christ. This is really what "santification" is. Sanctification means to be made holy. It is a never ending process and in reality it simply means to become more and more like Jesus.

Christians have no excuse to not be growing more like Jesus. God gave us the Holy Spirit. He is our moral conscience. If we choose not to do something God has commanded (love God and love one another) we make think that what we are doing is against a person but in reallity it is against God. When we don't listen we blatanly ignore the Holy Spirit.

What is God saying to me?

I have the hamburger method down pretty good...that is until it comes to my own children. I think God is telling me that I need to apply this method across the board. I am really not doing them any good when I get on them about things out of anger (and selfishness). I need to remember that the reason I am correcting them is not because I think they need to be, but because in doing so they will become better people. I need to do it out of love and help them grow to be more like Jesus, but I have to remember that in order to help them do this I need to be growing more like Jesus. I'm not a completely sanctified (holy) person. I am still in the process myself.


So I need to work on not jumping down my kids' throats when they do something wrong but correct or rebuke them out of love. I need to take a step back from the situation, think of all the great things my kids do, and help them do better things because I love them for who they are. Not only need I do this with my kids but I need to do it to everyone.


Father, when it comes to my own children I know I don't treat them like I treat other people. I often treat them harsher for not good cause. Yes I love them and want to see them do the right things but many times when I get on them about something I do it because it has in some way affected me. Please help me to correct them out of love and a yearning to see them be committed followers of you. I need your help in doing this. Thank you for hearing my prayer.

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