If we want our witness to be effective, we must live peaceable and orderly lives.

“But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.” (1 Thess 4:10-12)

As Christians, we should be people who strive to keep the peace, not just in our family and Christian community, but in the world at large. Paul urges the Thessalonians not only to continue in brotherly love, but to live quietly. In the Greek, “quietly” carries the idea of being peaceable or orderly. As Christians, should be free of any conduct that might be construed as disturbance of public order. We can live peaceable and orderly lives by minding our own affairs and doing honest work so that we do not have to depend on anyone else.

Our goal in living quiet lives is to witness for Christ. If we are known as people who consistently cause disturbances and are disorderly, we don’t distinguish ourselves from the surrounding community in which we live. But if we seek to keep the peace and live orderly lives, not only can no one can bring a credible charge against us, but they more than likely wonder why we are different, providing us an opportunity to witness to Christ’s power to change us, which is undergirded by our lives.

If we want our witness to be effective, we must live peaceable and orderly lives.

Idols can’t save

Near the end of my college career at the beginning of my professional career, I got a credit card. I thought it would be a good way for me to build credit for any future purchases I might need to make like buying a house.

At first, I was good about paying it off. But little by little I began to carry debt on that card. The more debt I amassed the more my monthly payment became. Eventually, I had amassed so much debt I was barely making the monthly interest payment. But I kept on spending.

Now I didn’t let things get too out of control. I was in sales. Whenever I would get a big bonus, I would pay down my debt. Over the years, I would yo-yo between debt and paying it off. Back and forth, back and forth I would go. That is until I met Jen. At the time, Jen was much more financially responsible. She didn’t carry debt on her credit cards. She paid them off every month.

When we got engaged, she told me she wanted me to pay off my debt before we got married. I had to buckle down. I couldn’t keep buying. Racking up the credit card debt. Thankfully, the Lord blessed me with several deals that provided enough bonus money to pay off my debt before we married. Since then, Jen and I have never carried any debt on our credit card. We pay it off at the end of each month.

Reflecting back on my time in debt, the reason I kept spending was that I thought another experience or another possession would satisfy me.“If I just did that or had this, I would be good,” I thought. But nothing ever satisfied, which is why I had so much debt.

Idols can’t deliver on their promises. They can’t provide us with ultimate joy and satisfaction. They can’t save us. God wants us to understand that — Idols can’t save instead they leave us empty. If we hold on to them, if we cling to them, they will eventually lead us to death. Not just physical death, but eternal death.

Pastor, please the Lord, not self or man.

”For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts.” (1 Thess 2:3-4)

True workmen for the Lord do not have ulterior motives. They should not be greedy. Their desire should not be to amass wealth, status, or position off the backs of those they are to serve and to whom they are to preach the good news. One should not enter ministry for riches or acclaim.

Ministers are entrusted with the gospel. They are speak the truth in love, not to please man, but to please God. Here in lies the difficulty. God is our boss/master not man. Sometimes those two are at odds. When they are at odds with one another, our default should not be to please man, rather our default should be to please God, trusting He will care for us.

Pastor, why do you preach? Why do you serve? Is it for your own gain or the gain of others? Do you trust God to provide or do you fear man? As Pastors, we serve an audience of One (God) to the pleasure of many (the congregation). Our focus must always be on pleasing the Lord not self or man.

Set your mind on the things above to live out your new humanity in Christ

“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” (Col 3:2)

It is easy to focus on the here and now. What is going on around us often steals our attention. It consumes us. The thoughts, actions, ideas, philosophies of the surrounding culture presses in on us. As believers, however, those who have been raised with Christ, we are to set our minds on the things above. In other words, we are to live according to God’s will.

Where is God’s will found? It is found in His Word. We must use God’s Word as our daily guide. If you are a believer, yet you never read God’s Word, you are incapable of setting your mind on the things above and living differently than the culture.

But those who are believers, those who have been raised with Christ, whose life is hidden with Christ in God (Col 3:3), you should set your mind on the things above. You should be motivated to do so because Jesus came to die. He didn’t come to die in order for you to continue to be influenced by the culture as you once were.

Jesus sacrificed Himself in order for you to be different. Not just live differently when you feel like, but to literally be different. If you skip down to verse 10, you discover that our self is new. In other words, in Christ, we are a new humanity. As a new humanity, we are to live differently. We are to live according to God’s original design.

The problem with living according to our new humanity is that we live in a world pressing in on us. Since we currently live in the midst of a sinful world, we must set our minds on the things above in order to live out our new humanity on a daily basis.

What does it mean that we aren’t willing to speak into another’s life?

When we are unwilling to speak into another’s life, in some sense we hate them as well.

We may not hate them as much as we hate a murderous ungodly regime. But we hate them nonetheless. We don’t love them as much as we love ourselves.

I believe the main reason we aren’t willing to speak into another’s life whether it be for correction or with the gospel is because we love ourselves more. We love our position, our comfort, our status, our life more than we love another. When we say things like,

“I know I should say something to my friend but I don’t want to ruin my friendship.”

OR

“I know I should seek to engage my neighbor with the gospel, but I don’t want to mess up the community we have. They are good neighbors and I don’t want to create any difficulty or uncomfortableness between us.”

When we say those things, we aren’t saying them out of love for our neighbors or our friends. We say them out of love for self.

When we prize self-comfort over speaking the truth, we don’t love our neighbors we actually hate our neighbors because we are leaving them to face God’s wrath.

We should want to be used as God’s instruments because Jesus came for us

Jesus’ sacrifice and His cross work should be something we want to share with everyone.

Jesus didn’t have to come. Jesus could have left us in our sins. But Jesus didn’t. Jesus had compassion on us. He cared for us. He loved us. His love drove Him to come and die so that we might have life and our relationship with the Father would be reconciled.

We should want to go, not because it is easier and we know God’s will will be done, but because we want to share the love of Jesus with others. Because we want to share what Jesus has done for us.

“When [our] heart is gripped by the love of God poured out in the cross, and when [we] see the extent of that love in the propitiation by which Christ became the sacrifice for [our] sin, bearing wrath and entering hell for [us], and when [we] are convinced that this Christ offers Himself in redeeming love to others who do not yet know Him, a passion will be lit in [our] heart to pursue a God-centered life, [to pursue people on mission for God.]”

James Denney in Jonah by Colin Smith, 48.

When God comes to us and asks us to do something that is difficult — and if He hasn’t done so already, He certainly will — when He does, we should go. We should answer His call, so that others might experience the same joy, peace, comfort, love, and salvation as we do.

When God calls us to go, we should go for the sake of others and their eternal destiny.