We live in a time unlike any in the past. Heart-wrenching catastrophes, natural disasters, calamities, and terrorist activities are paraded before our eyes through various visual media, and they have become a vicarious experience for us. We have seen massacres in schools, massacres in churches, earthquakes, famine, plane crashes, sinking ferries, global pandemics, and the list goes on and on. Nations are rising against nations, persecution of Christians is increasing, false teachers are everywhere, human wickedness has increased greatly and immorality has spread widely. All these signs point to the end of the age (Matthew 24). The coming of the Lord Jesus Christ is nearer now than when we first believed, the time of ultimate victory for believers and judgment of unbelievers is fast approaching.
Jesus is coming. What should we do?
Today, evangelism has been the main focus of many churches, and we have been busy pursuing the ministry of evangelism ever since the Lord Jesus Christ commanded us, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). Christians have employed various tactics and a multitude of methods throughout the history of the church under the area of evangelism. However, it seems to me that some churches have forgotten the underlying foundation of evangelism and are in some sort of a panic mode looking for ways to add believers to the kingdom.
Paul, in his first letter to Thessalonians, in chapter 4, verses 1 to 12, gives 05 basic exhortations to the church regarding evangelism. These exhortations came in the context of Paul hearing about the spiritual stamina of the Thessalonian converts in the face of fierce persecution and opposition. There was also some confusion regarding the return of the Lord and the end of the age. They were in anticipation and the excitement of the coming of Christ.
What did he say to them? ‘Jesus is coming, run to every street corner, every shopping mall, make a noise and tell the gospel, pass out tracks to every breathing soul, put up banners across towns, paint it on the walls, organize programs to attract unbelievers, for we all know that the time is ticking.’ He didn’t say that. By the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, what Paul says to the Church in Thessalonica is very interesting. He said, ‘Jesus is coming. Live a sanctified life, love each other more, live a quiet life, mind your own business, and work with your own hands.’
Live a sanctified life (v3-8)
“For this is the will of God, your sanctification” (v3). God’s will is that you be set apart from sin to God, abstain from sexual immorality. This is where our evangelism starts. Stay away from sexual sin. A Christian is a person saved unto sanctification. He used to be a slave of sin, now he is a slave of righteousness (Romans 6:19, 22).
We live in a society that worships immorality. How can I live a pure life in an impure society?
Paul gives three basic principles:
- Don’t let your body control you (v4)
Every individual Christian is to know how to gain mastery over his own body. The key to controlling your body is the Holy Spirit. If you are walking in the Spirit you will not gratify the desires of the flesh (Galatians 5:16). The key to walking in the Spirit is being filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:17-18). The key to being filled by the Spirit is letting the Word of Christ dwell in you richly (Colossians 3:16). Hide the Word in your heart so that you might not sin (Psalm 119:11).
- Don’t act like a godless pagan (v5)
The rampant, uncontrolled desire, and passion for sexual gratification is typical of unregenerate people. They don’t know God. They have no thought for holy conduct. Those who know God should not act like them.
- Don’t take advantage of another believer in the matter of sexual sin (v6a)
Do not go beyond the boundaries that God has drawn in order to suck others into the fulfillment of your own lustful pleasure.
Here Paul gives a stern warning to the believer and gives three reasons why we should abstain from sexual sin.
- God is an avenger, and He will inflict harm in return for sexual sin (v6b).
- God has not called us for the purpose of impurity (v7).
- Sexual sin disregards God, it ignores His holiness, abuses His mercy, and rejects the Spirit (v8).
Love each other more (v9-10)
The believers in Thessalonica demonstrated their faith in very practical ways. It was a loving church. They were hospitable, kind, generous, and showed mercy to people in need. Paul commended their love. But, in v10 Paul urges them to do it more. Paul saw that there is room for improvement. He said you could do better than this. He wanted to strengthen their faith and love.
We should not ignore the people around us amid our excitement of the coming of Christ. Jesus is coming, why mess with these worldly issues? Some Christians are so heavenly minded and focus totally on the coming of Christ and lose all sense of earthly responsibilities. We should love each other more meeting their needs.
Live a quiet life (v11)
Jesus is coming, shouldn’t we lead a loud life? Shouldn’t we be all over the place screaming and yelling and protesting and doing whatever we need to do to wake up the whole world? No, aspire to live quietly. Be zealous and strive eagerly to do nothing! Don’t make trouble for the leaders, don’t make trouble for the governors, don’t stir up unrest among the people. Christians are to live quiet, relaxed, restful, peaceful lives in face of persecution, in face of anticipation of the Lord’s return.
Mind your own business (v11)
Paul’s admonition to the Christians is to stay out of other people’s affairs, either the affairs of other Christians or other people in the society. He says to concentrate on your own life and on how you live. Do not run around sticking your nose into others’ affairs and trying to solve everyone’s problems in the world -mind your own business.
Work with your own hands (v11, 12)
Do not allow the mundane responsibilities of life to lose importance in the excitement and the enthusiasm and the zeal for the coming of Christ. Do not quit your jobs, do not liquidate all your assets and investments, and put your pajamas and get up on the rooftop and wait. The anticipation of Christ is right, but do not neglect the normal duties of your life. Work hard and diligently with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord (Colossians 3:22,23) to provide yourself and your family.
We live in an agitated, upset, disoriented, and messed-up world filled with problems where Christ is the only solution. The last thing the Lord wants is a bunch of irresponsible, busybody Christians who are doing nothing but running around in a frenzy about the coming of Jesus Christ. But Christians who are characterized by love, who lead quiet, peaceful, sanctified lives, who mind their own business with great care, and who faithfully discharge their duties as they were, are going to show a lifestyle to the world that may make Christianity attractive.
God is never in a state of panic and God’s people who reflect God’s character shouldn’t be in a state of panic either. When the whole world falls apart and everything seems to be going to pieces, God is still there on the throne, He is still sovereign, He is still in charge. He orchestrates every transaction, every human deed, every molecule in the universe. So, settle down, live a holy life, love each other more, mind your own business, and carry on in your normal function in the world. So that you may walk properly before unbelievers (v12).
Dr. R.C. Sproul, Dr. John MacArthur