The Ideal Walk, pt. 2
I Thessalonians 4:9-12
Last time we looked at 5 reasons the Christian life is compared to a walk. Then we started looking at several kinds of walks we need to take.
We covered just the first kind of walk, which is the walk of holiness, illustrated in vv. 1-8 by sexual sins. [Our home life]
vv. 9-10 The walk of love. [Our church life]
vv. 11-12 The walk of honesty. [Our work life]
Paul begins by saying, I don’t have to say much on this, because you already know what God says about this.
1 John 3:14
We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.
It’s a proof that you are saved, that you love fellow Christians. You can tell a lot about a person by the company they keep.
1 Peter 1:22
Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:
1 John 4:11-12
11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. 12 No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.
To the world much of how a Christian believes and behaves is foolishness. When we preach against sin we are labeled as archaic, narrow minded, and old fashioned. When we preach prophecy we are called dreamers, escapists, and visionaries. Separation? Fanatics! Tithing? Selfish money grubbers! That much money could easily increase your standard of living! [they say]
But here’s one coin that is always taken at face value. Here’s one quality that is undeniable and unmistakable. It is brotherly love! They will know we are Christians by our love.
Ill.—that’s the reason that fighting within a church does more damage than all the infidelity in America put together. Battling egos within the church do more to paralyze the church than atheists and pornographers and drug dealers. Personal agendas in the church do as much disgrace within the church walls as phony televangelists that have been unmasked!
I thank God for the spirit of joy and unity here, but I also shake in my boots because of it...for I know there’s a big bull’s-eye atop this place because of it! I thank God for great deacons who are neither yes men or power crazed, but part of a team that works together w/ no agenda other than to find and do the will of God! We have great s.s. teachers who aren’t building their own following but God’s! I’m blessed w/ a wonderful staff holding onto the same rope I hold and pulling in the same direction toward no goal other than God!
Egos are checked at the door here, and good thing, because otherwise the world would conclude we’re no different than the secular business world, and would use us as their excuse not to believe. “Same old dog eat dog world at that church!”
1 Corinthians 3:3
For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?
When the church acts just like the world they cease to be a church, for a true church is built with the bricks of brotherly love.
What words describe a lack of this love? Discord, jealousy, selfishness, envy, anger, quarreling. We may excuse them as personality traits but the Bible is not so charitable. The Bible calls these things sin!
19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
The birthmark of the Christian is walking in love.
It is not my job to get even or teach somebody a lesson. The graduate level of Christianity teaches us to bless those who curse us, love those who hate us, pray for those who use us, and do good to those who are evil to us.
Ill.—Joseph of the OT looked at his brothers who were responsible for throwing him to the wolves, now standing before him begging for food. He had in his hand the power to make them pay, and starve them out. But he gave life to those who wished him death. He gave grace to the graceless. He chose restraint over vengeance.
We get ourselves into so much trouble when we have to have our own way. Half our problems come from wanting our own way and the other half come from getting it!
Many live their lives cafeteria style: self serve only
Ill.—little boy and sister were on a toy rocking horse, cramped, trying to share. The boy said, “If one of us would just get off there’d be more room for me!”
Some Christians are only content if they get their own way.
Ill.—Abraham opened his home to Lot, clothed, fed, and housed him. And when it came time for them to part company Lot chose the best land as Abraham showed deference to him.
Harmony flourishes in the church where each prefers the other over himself.
Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;
1 Peter 3:8
Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous:
Next, walk in honesty:
vv. 11-12 Shut up and mind your own business. Tend to your own affairs. Don’t be a busybody. If you aren’t part of the problem or part of the solution then shu ... ummm ... be quiet!
A butcher and a surgeon are alike, but different. They both cut meat, but for different reasons. So it is with a gossip and a true friend. Both cut on one another, but w/ different motives and much different results.
Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.
v. 11 ‘to work with your own hands’
Here’s the background: these new believers were living in light of the Lord’s coming and quit their jobs, and had to be taken in by others who still had means. Look at the parallel passage here...
2 Thessalonians 3:10-12
10 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. 11 For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. 12 Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.
You can be a great Christian testimony by just being a hard worker.
Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;
Even Christians lie and cheat in business, on their taxes..
v. 12 ‘them that are without’ can be reached thru your good honest integrity.
Ill.—a guest preacher was speaking in Nashville, TN. The next day he took a city bus, giving the driver a dollar bill, he sat down and looked at his change. He had a dime too much. At first he thought it trivial. He knew the bus company would never miss that dime. Then he realized that wasn’t honest and approached the driver. “You accidentally gave me too much change.” “It was no accident,” he replied. “I was in church yesterday when you preached thou shalt not steal...I just wanted to make sure you really believed it.”
Ill.—Teddy Roosevelt was a cattle rancher in his younger days. One day he was riding across the ranch w/ one of his cow hands in the days of open grazing...no fences. He came across a stray calf. His helper started preparing to brand it.
“What are you doing?” Roosevelt asked.
“I know my duty...always put your boss’ brand on stray calves.
“Pack it in and get your pay and leave,” Roosevelt said. “Anyone who would steal FOR me would steal FROM me.”
Walk in holiness, in brotherly love, and in honesty. The home, the church, the workplace. 24 hours a day walking with God.
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