1 Thessalonians 4 Devotion Sharing

Submitted by Andy Tung, Gracepoint Hsinchu

What about Christian life can be learned from Apostle Paul’s exhortation to the Thessalonians to do “more and more” of what they were already doing? So much of growth in life comes through repetition and continued faithfulness to something. If I want to get good at an instrument, I need to constantly practice; esp. the scales or fundamentals in order to build on that foundation. If I want to get good at a certain sport, I need to practice the motion or technique again and again even if I’ve been playing for years. Even though I may know what I ought to do, doing it is an entirely different thing. This is obviously no different for Christian life. I may know the right answers, I may know the content of the bible, but if I am not living it out, that is not enough. But more than that, even if I am currently living it out, I need to hear this message of doing so more and more. There is something rebellious in me, and many people, that doesn’t like to be told to do things that we are already doing or know that we ought to do. It’s almost this “I already know that so why are you nagging me” kind of an attitude. Yet, I must realize that not only am I a forgetful person, but with disciplines or repetitive tasks, if I slow down or compromise on doing these things, I could quickly lose the motivation or habit of doing it. And ultimately as a Christian, if that happens, I will start to not only regress in my spiritual growth, but I will experience being quickly overwhelmed with life/ministry, I will feel burnout, I will live a much more turbulent Christian life. That much more as I am in Taiwan called to lead the ministry out here, I realize why my leaders and those within the church always told me to be faithful to my spiritual disciplines and always reminded me how to love people. As ministry and life gets busy, if these habits had not be engrained in me through years of exhortation, I don’t think I would have had the personal conviction to maintain these safeguards in my life. And so I exhort those I minister to do the same because I know how valuable it has been in my own life.

What are some things about which I need to heed the urging to do “more and more”? Directly from the text, I need to heed the urging to love more and more. Specifically this would involve:

  • Speaking the truth in love both with the staff and students here
  • Praying more for people
  • Getting to know the family backgrounds of our students
  • Prioritizing 1 on 1 times with students in order to get to know them
  • Not turning a blind eye to needs
  • Pushing myself physically
  • Consistency with spiritual disciplines
  • Staying connected and communicating more with my leaders/friends back at home
  • Setting aside regular reflection times during the week and month
  • Preparing faithfully for bible studies/messages
  • Planning for events/things more thoroughly
  • Placing boundaries in my life that will protect me from temptation
  • Staying physically healthy

What is the relationship between leading a disciplined and diligent life and being able to love those around me? You need to lead a disciplined and diligent life in order to consistently love people around you. From personal experience, if I am not disciplined, even if I want to love people, I will miss opportunities to love people. I could have the right intentions but I will miss those opportunities to love people. And with loving people, I need to love when love is needed. When people have needs, that is when I need to be there for them. It cannot just happen on a whim. I cannot just love when I am ready to love, I need to love when the need arises and this happens not on my own time table, but through the various situations in each person’s life. Ultimately, I need to lead a disciplined life in order to have the room in my life to love and carry the burdens of others.

——————————

Submitted by Phil Choi, Gracepoint Hsinchu

What about Christian life can be learned from Apostle Paul’s exhortation to the Thessalonians to do “more and more” of what they were already doing?

As Christians, we should never settle for cruise control. We should never have the mentality that we are “doing enough” or that we can “take it easy” because the danger of that is that we become smug, think that we’ve done more than we actually have, and never fully realize how much God can truly use us when we give it our all. This mentality of “good enough” also shows a lack of understanding of God’s great vision for each one of our lives. I once heard from someone that while God loves and accepts us, He is not satisfied with us. His goal is to make us like Christ. In other words, perfect. So the exhortation to do more and more comes from a desire to settle for nothing less than being like Christ. That is the goal of every Christian. That is the measure to which we ought to gauge our lives.

What are some things about which I need to heed the urging to do “more and more”?

One thing that I constantly need to push myself to do more and more is loving people around me. It’s not enough to love a few people around me and think that I’ve actually done something. Sometimes when I look back on a week and count the number of people that I actually tried to love, I’ll feel good about the fact that I loved these people in my life. And while it is something to praise God for, it should never be something I get smug about. Why? It’s because there are countless other people that I could have loved, of whom I neglected to. It’s a sobering exercise to do because it reminds me how much I need to grow in terms of embracing more and more people in my life to love. While I may be able to count on one hand how I tried to love people around me, I can count of numerous hands how I failed to love people. I was too tired to give someone my full attention, too stressed to respond nicely, too lazy to serve, too self-absorbed to notice the person right in front of me, too caught up in my own world to think about God’s kingdom in this world, etc. And it reminds me how small my heart actually is. So instead of patting myself on the back for the people that I did love, I need to also think about other people that I failed to love, and constantly push myself to stretch my heart, to embrace more and more people and their needs, and in this way do more and more.

What is the relationship between leading a disciplined and diligent life and being able to love those around me?

In order to love people around me, I need to live a disciplined and diligent life. Let’s face it: life is busy. And secondly, by default, as a sinner, I want to spend my precious time on my needs. So already, the cards are stacked against me to live a life of love. So I can’t expect myself to just “get around to loving people” because that simply is not going to happen. We all have 24 hours in a day, and the more people I embrace to love in my life, the less time I’ll have for myself. So it’s imperative that I be disciplined about my time and what I do so that I can make the maximum use of the hours God gives me. But another way to think about it is that anything that I care about I will be disciplined about. If I care about my health, I’ll be disciplined about exercising. If I care about learning a language, I’ll diligently study. In the same way, if I care about living a life of love, I’ll be disciplined about that. I’ll make time for it, arranging my schedule to actually do it, push myself to do so more and more. And I won’t settle for “good enough” because I’ll want to get better at it, want to embrace more. And it won’t be a burden because it’s something I care about and want to do.

Be Sociable, Share!

Leave a Response