I want to share with you this morning, before we leave the hotel room to go to the first day of the ACU Lectureships, a couple of ideas from 1 Thessalonians 4:9-12 that we just didn’t have time to deal with yesterday at Legacy. More on “yesterday at Legacy” later in the post.
There’s no doubting that verses 11 & 12 are a description of the “brotherly love” and the “more and more” in verses 9 & 10. Leading a quiet life, minding your own business, and working to support yourself is the way Paul describes keeping a low profile to keep harm from coming to the brothers and sisters of the congregation. That kind of brotherly love, putting Christian brothers and sisters and their well being at the forefront of all the decisions and choices we make in the community, is the “do so more and more.”
David DeSilva wrote a book four or five years ago on Christian ministry formation in the New Testament. And he wrote this about that particular passage:
“Feelings of attachment and experiences of encouragement within the group will outweigh feelings of disconnectedness from society and experiences of discouragement at the hands of outsiders. Care for and being cared for by the brothers and sisters will lead to an increased desire to conform to the values of the group, and to be held in esteem by those who are important to a Christian’s daily life.”
We all make decisions, every day, about how we’re going to be involved in the community. And Paul tells this new group of Christians that those decisions ought to be influenced by, if not determined by, our brotherly love. Love and concern for the well-being of my brothers and sisters will impact the way I live my life in society.
What you do out in the community today reflects on the person you sat by in church yesterday. The way I act today reflects on you. I need to be thinking about you when I make purchasing decisions and recreational choices and entertainment selections. You should be thinking about your church when you make career decisions and social judgments.
That’s taking it to the next step. That’s doing it more and more.
“Paul is not uninterested in acts of love and benevolence that reach beyond the group. But he seeks to promote first that level and kind of mutual affection and investment that will enhance the solidarity of the group, as well as convey to the individual member that these relationships are the most significant in his or her life.”
The Lord moved in amazing ways through the Legacy church yesterday. He spoke words of comfort to us through the prophet Habakkuk and our brother Mac McAlister in the shock of the deaths of the sons of our dear friends Paul and Jean Dennis and Eldon and Marjorie McDowell. He showed us a beautiful picture of reconciliation between a man and his family and a man and his God with the new birth of our new brother Tyler Sharpe. He communicated to us what a humble heart and a sensitive spirit looks like in the confession of Mark Dunn. He touched us and moved us through Mason Scott’s open challenge to love one another more and depend on each other more. There was not a person in the building who wasn’t touched and impacted by at least one of the many things that happened yesterday morning. And then, as if the floodgates of mercy and compassion had been opened, Sunday night ended with a couple of dozen of our brothers and sisters requesting prayer from our elders. I lost count as couples and families prayed with our shepherds during the singing of beautiful hymns that proclaim our dependence on our God such as “I Need Thee Every Hour” and “It Is Well With My Soul.”
Terry Rush always prays before they worship at Memorial Road, “God, please do that thing you always do.”
I began praying that a year or so ago. Yesterday, God did that thing he always does.
We didn’t arrive at the Best Western – Abilene until almost 2:00 this morning. Something about a construction issue on the roads in Forney for Dan and Jason as they left Diana to get to North Richland Hills to pick me up last night. I think it probably had more to do with an unscheduled stop at the Dairy Palace in Canton.
In Tulsa, we’re always having to choose between two or three excellent sessions every hour. Here, I don’t know how we’re going to do this. Every hour there are at least a dozen offerings that I don’t think I can miss. I know for sure we have Randy Harris at 8:30 and Jeff Walling at 9:45, even thought that means I have to miss Mark Shipp’s presentation on spiritual adultery in Hosea. After that, I’ll have to rely on my horsemen buddies to lead the way. I’ll probably be coming home with lots of CDs.