Finally, brothers, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality (1 Thessalonians 4:1-3 NIV). read more.
Last Sunday we hosted a friend of mine at our church as a guest preacher. Emmanuel Nester is a young man with an amazing story of God’s grace. He is a great preacher too. In his sermon he asked us a question: “Who do soccer players play for?” They were a couple of answers given. Some said they play for fans (or is it fun?); others said it is for the coach, the manager or their club, etc. Emmanuel then told us the answer: players really play for the referee. The only opinion that matters during a football (read soccer) match is the referee’s. His word or whistle is final. When he flashes a red card to you, you rather get off the pitch immediately otherwise the security will “escort” you out. Your protests, your fans’ boos, or your coach’s pacing up and down won’t change a thing. In the same way, God is our referee; we live to please him.
I would like to share with you four ways we can live in order to please God. This is based on 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12.
- Live intentionally. The most miserable life is that which is lived without purpose. If you want to please God, purpose in your heart and be deliberate in your decisions. Many Christians think that grace is a license to live recklessly. This is wrong because Grace is, as one person put it, “divine enablement.” It is a power to do the will of God. Spiritual growth doesn’t just happen. You have to desire it and pursue it. Finally, brothers, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more (verse 1).
- Avoid Growth Hazards. Every intentional traveler must take precautionary measures for any hazards he might face on the way. Likewise, every Christian ought to beware of the hazards that might hamper his relationship with God and others. In this passage the Bible particularly points out the sin of sexual immorality. It is no secret how sexual impropriety has ruined many lives, families, ministries and organizations, yet people still don’t take it seriously. Of course sex is a gift from God and is good if practiced in the context of a marriage relationship between man and woman. No one is immune from falling into the sexual sin; that’s why we need to be extra careful. The good news is that “it is God’s will that you should be sanctified” (verse 3), that you should be separated from whatever is impure and detestable before God. God gave us His Holy Spirit to guide and empower us in doing what pleases Him. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life (verse 7).
- Pursue Love. It’s been said that love is a verb. Love is more than just an emotion. It is easier to do certain things for some people if we are excited, or expecting something in return. But what about when there is nothing we are expecting or we don’t “feel like” doing anything? True love is selfless and sacrificial. It looks beyond our personal needs and comfort. True love is the antidote of lust (and lust is a precursor of sexual immorality mentioned above). The word of God encourages us to love our brothers and sisters and to do so more and more (verses 9-10).
- Live a Productive Life. How we view ourselves is important to what we do. Are you a doctor who happens to be a Christian or a Christian who happens to be a doctor? The two are not one and the same. Whatever we do should spring out of our Christian identity. Responsible living is a spiritual discipline. The Bible exhorts Christians to avoid idleness and be productive with their lives. Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody (verses 11-12).
The referee’s just blown the whistle; it’s time to stop.