I Thessalonians 4
Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, for that is indeed what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.
I Thessalonians 4:9-11
I wonder how much of this I can take away as applicable to my own life, or how to balance it against the commission to “go and make disciples” (Matthew 28:19). It seems that minding one’s own affairs, and living quietly working with your hands, is pretty different from moving everywhere in an attempt to impact as many people as possible. Paul is in almost no sense “dependent on no one”; while he does work and support himself, he also receives a lot of help along the way. What is he (and what is He) telling the Thessalonians here? Is he speaking to them individually, or as a body (the church)? Is this the default state for individual believers (and churches), to work humbly unless and until God calls you specifically to other service?
Also, what does it mean to “walk properly before outsiders”? Is that just saying that we should display God’s glory by our humility, by the quality of our work, by the relationships with others in the church? Does it mean something more? I think God is calling me to this as a minimum investment in the gospel: to humble myself instead of seeking recognition, to work with passion and excellence for my earthly employer(s), and to display the Gospel in the way I relate to everyone around me, believer or not.
I Thessalonians 5
Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you.
I Thessalonians 5:1
My favorite retort whenever someone wants to argue about eschatology: we don’t need that, we simply need to be ready at all times. Someday I will say that and someone will reply by calling me to verse 20, which tells us not to despise prophecies. I don’t despise prophecy; I merely despise the division that occurs because we can’t agree on what those prophecies mean, especially when those prophecies are meant to unite with a sense of urgency.
I put you under oath before the Lord to have this letter read to all the brothers.
I Thessalonians 5:27
Sharing scripture is a serious business!
I don’t know how what Elihu says in this chapter is any different from the words of the other friends.
If you have sinned, what do you accomplish against him? And if your transgressions are multiplied, what do you do to him? If you are righteous, what do you give to him? Or what does he receive from your hand?
Nothing we do impacts God. And yet, we are created so that what we do might impact His glory. What a strange tension, a paradox.
God is the god of thunder.