If there is a word that people like to throw at Christians, it’s hypocrisy.
And too often, it’s all too fitting.
Unfortunately, it was also true in the time of Paul. By the way some Christians were living, they were bringing Christ into disrepute. And so Paul dealt with that in writing to the Thessalonians.
In chapter 4, he’s talking about how we should walk in a manner that pleases God. Yesterday, we talked about being a clean temple for God. In the first century, as is true today, sexual morals were extremely loose, and so Paul exhorted the Thessalonians to be sexually pure, and not defile their bodies which are the temple of God. For when we live impure lives, we blend into society rather than standing out from it. And as God’s temple among unbelievers, we are called to stand out.
Paul then shows the Thessalonians another positive way to stand out from society. He told them,
Now about brotherly love we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. And in fact, you do love all the brothers throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers, to do so more and more. (9-10)
The world knows all about lust. They know much less about what true love really is, and most spend much of their lives trying to find it as a result. But Jesus said,
By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. (John 13:35)
When we as Christ’s church love each other, it attracts them.
When the the world sees Christians couples who still love each other even after years of marriage it attracts them.
When the world sees such diverse people in one church caring for each other despite their differences, it attracts them.
When the world sees the church reaching out to touch the lives of those who are hurting, it attracts them.
Why? Because they see something we have that they don’t.
And so Paul tells the Thessalonians, “You do love each other. But do so more and more. Let your light shine ever brighter through the love that you have.”
But there was another problem that the Thessalonians had. A number of them were lazy. Perhaps they thought the Lord was coming soon, so they thought, “Why work?” And they were just leeching off of other Christians. In doing so, however, they brought disrepute to the name of Christ.
And so Paul says,
Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody. (11-12)
We cannot live as leeches and shine the light of Christ. Nobody likes a leech.
Further, we’ll see in II Thessalonians that not only were people leeching off others, they were being busybodies. And people were looking at them, and saying, “Is this what a Christian is?”
And so Paul admonishes them, “Work. Don’t be dependent on anyone. For in doing so, you’ll win the respect of those unbelievers around you.”
How about you? When others see you, what do they see? Do they see a person filled with the love of Christ? Do they see people who are diligent in all they do?
Do you stand out in this world for the right reasons?