There is a verse in 1 Thessalonians that I want you to think about. It is a verse that, if you are not careful, you could easily zip right past and miss what I believe is an important truth. Here is the verse:
Did you see the truth? Did it leap off the page for you as it did for me when I read this? I know you probably think I am talking about the power part. Yes, that is important, but I want to direct your attention to the second part of the verse. “And you know of our concern for you from the way we lived when we were with you.” Just reading this made me stop and ask a question. How did they live among them?
In this one verse, Paul is emphasizing not just how he preached and brought them the gospel, but how he lived when he was among them. Thinking about how they lived among the Thessalonians forces me to ask myself and you, how are you living?
This letter comes from Paul, Timothy, and Silas written to the church in Thessalonica, which Paul and Silas founded on their visit there. You can read about their initial visit in Acts 17.
What stands out is that they preached the gospel with power and they lived a certain way when they were among them. Yet with all of their preaching, their living did not conflict with their preaching and teaching. They preached the truth and they lived the truth in front of these people. What is fascinating is they did this because of the concern they had for the people of Thessalonica.
This forces us to return and ask, if Paul and his companions lived this way, how then should you and I be living? This issue goes beyond your occupation or your ministry call. Whether you are a preacher of the gospel like Paul, or if you work in a secular workplace, if you carry the name of Christ then we must ask the question, how should you be living? With these thoughts in mind, here are five things I want you to consider.
One of the first things we must recognize is that we are not just called to share or preach the gospel, we must also live the gospel. Our salvation is not just about the things we say or profess, it is also about how we live.
One of the biggest stumbling blocks for people is when those who are followers of Christ live in a way that does not reflect Christ. They are Christians, but you might as well take the Christ out of it, because they do not resemble Christ in any way. When this happens, then the way you live interferes with the things you say.
This doesn’t just affect those who are non-believers, this affects believers too. Remember Paul was reminding the believers in Thessalonica of how he lived when he was among them. We must recognize that everything we do as Christians has the potential to impact the people around us. In short people are watching how you live and if you care about them, you will watch how you live as well.
Paul didn’t say it here but one of the ways we must live with people is to live at peace with them.
Our responsibility is to live at peace with everyone. This doesn’t mean you try to make everyone happy or please everybody, because that will never happen. This means you don’t stir up trouble or create confusion. If the message of the gospel causes some disharmony, that is one thing, just make sure it is the gospel and not you. We are called to live a life of peace with others, so don’t be a troublemaker.
One of the best ways we can live among others is to live humbly, or as I say live below. We used to have this saying when I worked in sales and you were dealing with a potential customer, always be one down. Meaning even if you know more, don’t make the customer feel like you are better than they are. We must recognize the value that every person has and see them in that light. In the age of self-promotion we live in, humility is a lost art. But know for certain it is still something that God honors.
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There is nothing worse than being inconsistent. One day you are one person and the next day you are someone else. This type of living is confusing to people and does nothing to endear them to Christ. James 1:8 reminds us that a double-minded man is unstable in everything he does. Live in such a way that through the ups and downs of life, people will see your consistency. When this happens, they see God’s grace and power in action in your life.
The thing that ties all of this together is the reason behind it all. If you remember, in the verse Paul gives us the source of the motivation for the way they lived – it was their concern. The reason Paul and Silas chose to live the way they did among the people of Thessalonica, is because they cared about them. It was for their sake they chose to live this way, not for their own benefit. They were not interested in themselves, they were concerned about the people.
We don’t often talk about sacrifice anymore in this Christian journey, but true love for the people around you will cause you to sacrifice because you care about them. Paul lived this in front of them because he cared about them. As Christians, let’s live upright before people not just for our own good but for the good of those around us.
I want to leave you with what happened because of how they lived before them.
They preached the gospel with power and lived right before them, and because of this the gospel was received with joy and they became trophies and instruments of God’s grace. This church thrived because of how these men lived among them. Nothing in the way they lived interfered with the message they were preaching. I hope that truth resonates with you, and I will ask you the one question I did at the beginning, how are you living?
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Clarence L. Haynes Jr. is a speaker, Bible teacher, author, and co-founder of The Bible Study Club. He has spent more than 30 years serving the body of Christ in various capacities and is the author of The Pursuit of Purpose. He has just released his new book The Pursuit of Victory: How To Conquer Your Greatest Challenges and Win In Your Christian Life. If you have ever struggled trying to live the Christian life, this book will show you what it takes to live a victorious Christian life and become the man or woman of God that you truly desire to be. To learn more about his ministry please visit clarencehaynes.com.