And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else. Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
Consider the above Scripture 1 Thessalonians 5:14 -18.
I know that there is an awful lot to grasp in these four verses, but can you imagine a world where every Christian that you ever met, adhered to each and every one of these principles. What an awesome place this world would be if we could be patient with each other, understanding that each of us is in a completely different stage of our walk with the Lord. Accepting of the fact that although we strive for perfection, not one of us will ever attain such a standard, while here on earth. A place where we take the time to encourage each other’s growth in the Lord and help the weak believer, instead of shunning them due to their inevitable failures. And then there is my personal favorite; to be joyful always. Regardless of the circumstances to be joyful, actually thanking the Lord for the opportunity to grow through a trial. To grow closer to Him as we grow more like Him.
This is not an ideal that can not be reached. The first century Church lived close to this ideal and is to us a wonderful example. At a time when to follow Jesus was simply called “the way,” we can imagine the reasons for this name.
The most likely reason was because they followed “the way,” Himself who is Jesus Christ. God told us in His Word that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. The only way to the Father in heaven is through His son, Jesus the Christ. Jesus Christ is the way.
Okay so that makes perfect sense, but I also like to think it was because, for them it was “a way of life.” It was not simply a religious belief, but actually a very different way of living than most others were used to seeing. Following in the path that Jesus so faithfully marked out for them, many of these believers were faithful enough to our Lord to die in His name. Now that is the ultimate sacrifice, and yet not many of us will be asked to do this, or will we?
In Galations 2:20, Paul writes,
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
Paul, it has been said, was later physically crucified for his faith, but obviously at the time he wrote this he was very much physically alive and likely kicking. So what then did Paul mean by, “I have been crucified with Christ?” Obviously he is speaking of the fact that he had died to self. He had stopped living for his desires, his wants, and his perceived needs and he had begun to live God’s will for his life.
Dear ones, the whole purpose of our being called as Christians by God is to be filled with His Life, which is the fullness of God. As a Christian I must learn to set aside my self-life so that God’s Life will show forth. I must daily, choose to live by the faith that I proclaim, because faith expresses itself in obedience. I must make choices that are of faith, since anything that is not of faith for a Christian is sin. I must not look at my circumstances, but to my God and the promises He has given me. This is one reason it is so important to know what His Word says, to know what promises He has given us.
I must exercise my God-given willpower. This is the power that every believer possesses within themselves to be able to perform God’s will for their lives and not what they naturally think, feel, and desire. Christians are not to be conformed to the pattern of this world, we are to be different. Truly celebrating Him in life daily and boldly living out our faith is what will make us different from the rest of the world. We will stand out; others will look at us with envy, wanting that extraordinary peace and joy that we exude. Our lives are to be a celebration of Jesus Christ and I believe that we should celebrate Him like a child… wholeheartedly!