Ephesians 4:22 tells us to put off our old selves…or rid ourselves of our old ways. But it’s almost impossible to do if you’re still hanging out with the same wrong friends… at places that got you in trouble before. Putting aside our old ways means we have to disarm our sins…exposing them to God’s truth and confessing them, but then ridding ourselves of whatever necessary to make a clean break from the past.
Bad things happen to good people…for we live in a troubled and broken world where peace and unity is hard to find. But that doesn’t mean we have to cave in to all the ugliness around us. God has placed you on the earth at this particular time in history to make a difference…for you to be an influence, rather than being influenced by the wicked around you. Stand strong in the face of evil…pray without ceasing…tell others about Jesus.
I think as Believers, we all smugly think that if we had lived during Biblical times and had witnessed the miracles and teachings of Jesus…we would of immediately realized He was the Messiah. But would we? Humanity saw Him as just another man…indeed, a good man who taught with unheard of authority and passion, but still just a flesh and blood human like the rest of us. Would we have been able to recognize His divinity…when the incarnate Jesus Christ…the embodiment of God took on human form and lived among us? I would hope and pray so.
The Lord is watching over us. Us, the simple, plain folk with honest, sincere hearts and a desire to love our neighbor as ourselves. Us, the common people with uncommon grit and perseverance when disaster strikes. Yes, we may be just ordinary people, but with God’s help, we can come together to do extraordinary things.
The selfish human nature is always striving for the liberty of self-determination. “I want to do what I want, when I want to”, is our mindset. But with that enticement comes deception and seduction as we wander farther and farther off the right path. And sooner or later, we find ourselves in the middle of perversion, and wonder just how we got ourselves into such a mess. In the search for freedom, we have instead become a piece of property…owned and controlled by depravity and lies.
God had sent the Prophet Samuel to Bethlehem to anoint one of Jesse’s seven sons as King. As six strapping young men paraded past Samuel…each time he thought to himself, “This has to be the one!” But God reminded Samuel in verse 7, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” It wasn’t until the youngest son, David, was called from the pasture, that God declared, “He is the one.” This should give all of us encouragement…especially those who have said to themselves, “I have nothing to offer God.” The Lord doesn’t consider outward appearances. He looks only at what He can do through us if we’re a willing worker.
Even though Paul was addressing this letter to the Church in Thessalonica…he probably could be speaking directly to any modern-day Church you know. Certain members of the Thessalonian Church, in anticipation of Christ’s return, had become careless and neglectful of their responsibility to work and support themselves. In other words…they were sitting around, waiting for the Rapture! Now, we may not see that degree of slothfulness in Church today…but what you can see is the attitude that “It’s me and Thee, God, and I’m not worrying about anybody else.” Paul warned that laziness and apathy would contribute to the downfall of any Church. Secondly, as the Church Body, we are to be Spiritual Cheerleaders for the fainthearted…the worry-warts…and those who can only see the cup half empty. We are to be encouragers of each other. Finally, as the Church, we are all to be ready with a helping hand for those who are weak spiritually, for when they grow, the Church grows.