THIS WEEK’S FOCUSED SCRIPTURE
1 Finally, dear brothers and sisters, we urge you in the name of the Lord Jesus to live in a way that pleases God, as we have taught you. You live this way already, and we encourage you to do so even more. 2 For you remember what we taught you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. 3 God’s will is for you to be holy, so stay away from all sexual sin. 4 Then each of you will control his own body and live in holiness and honor— 5 not in lustful passion like the pagans who do not know God and his ways. 6 Never harm or cheat a fellow believer in this matter by violating his wife, for the Lord avenges all such sins, as we have solemnly warned you before. 7 God has called us to live holy lives, not impure lives. 8 Therefore, anyone who refuses to live by these rules is not disobeying human teaching but is rejecting God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you. 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8 (NLT)
THOUGHTS FROM WILL
Here in 2019, living in the United States, we are living in one of the most individualist, narcissistic, and self-centered cultures in history. It is common for people’s entire existence to be focused around how they can make themselves the happiest. It’s the American dream; buy a nice house that makes YOU feel good, have a nice car that makes YOU feel important, have a wife that makes YOU happy, and a job that YOU enjoy — not to imply those are inherently bad things, but oftentimes we, as humans (regardless of religious beliefs), find ourselves unintentionally doing things for, building relationships for, and putting our money towards, whatever pleases us. This is very common and the more I self-reflect, the more I see this mindset embedded into my decision making. A human standard, some might say.
But that’s what is so emphatic and anti-cultural about what Paul is saying here as he writes to the people of Thessalonica. He says that he urges them to not fall into the trap of pursuing self-pleasure but try to please God (verse 1). I know the concept is simple, but it began to challenge me when I thought about how uncommon it is for this to be someone’s actual number-one focus. What would happen if we, as the body of Christ, began to all passionately pursue pleasing God above rules, success, self-pleasure, personal ambition, etc.? How different would we be viewed by the world? How fewer stories would there be of hypocritical Christians? How much more would we be fully fulfilled? The chapter continues to explain the way to follow God’s will, which is by being holy (verse 3). Holy means to be “set apart.” As Jesus followers, we are called to please God by being different than the rest of the world; we are called to put our focus on pleasing and glorifying our God, not ourselves.
The section ends with affirming to us that God sent us the Holy Spirit. We are urged to live differently. And that makes sense considering the fact that we have someone different. We are called to do things the world isn’t doing (please God) because we have someone the world doesn’t have (Holy Spirit). So, let us please God, let us take the focus off of us and on to the King. Let us live differently, walk differently, talk differently, love differently.