Christianity is far more than just a religion, it is based on our relationship with God and our relationship with other people. To those of like faith, our role is to strengthen and encourage, to those of the world, our role is to draw them to Christ. Yet, to really impact anyone we have to invest time. Since our time is limited we must be wise who we spend our time with and for how long. If we overextend ourselves with too many people we may have a lot of friends but leave a very little mark. Jesus sought the Father who he was to disciple and so should we. Ministers like to brag about how many people they have in their church services, the question really should be who are we discipling?
Paul traveled to many locations and established many relationships which caused him to long to visit them especially when they were facing hardship. Unlike the Holy Spirit, we cannot be everywhere at once. So Paul would send his disciples when it was not possible for him to be there himself. Here, Paul sends Timothy to encourage and strengthen the believers in Thessalonica with the hope that they would be able to continue to endure through persecution.
What sets us apart from the world should not be just our religious fervor but our ability to handle the pressures of life. We are no different than the world if our faith is just a crutch to escape the problems of the world rather than face them. We are human and we will struggle but that is why we are part of a spiritual body that we lean on each other for strength when we feel weak. Our goal should be to gain such endurance that we can handle anything.
Paul was filled with joy and delight once Timothy reported how well the Thessalonians were doing. One of the greatest pleasures I experience is to see those I disciple grow and develop. To see them no longer tossed to and fro by the problems of life but rather see them get through their problems by the wisdom and power of God. Like Paul, my prayer is that they would walk in the guidance of the Holy Spirit, as He removes obstacles, and they overflow in the love of God for the world around them.
How can we tell someone walks with God? By the fruit you shall know them. A Christian bumper sticker or t-shirt is not enough. It is how we conduct ourselves that speaks louder than what we claim. We are no longer under the law but we are in Christ who fulfilled the law. So it is not about trying to do right it's about being united with our Savior. It is out of this union that fruit is naturally grown.
Temptation doesn't cease after salvation, our flesh will still try to draw us away. The enemy will twist scripture just as he did with Eve so that we compromise and give in to his deception. We must see through the lies and resist the enemy through the power of the Holy Spirit. It says here that the will of God is to be sanctified and abstain from sexual misconduct. So no matter what we feel or hear in our head it is sin to commit any sexual acts outside of the confines of holy matrimony.
The flesh is lust driven, God is love driven. Lust takes, Love gives! Lust is selfish, love is selfless. Lust makes a human nothing but an object. Lust is not of God there is no rationality to giving into it we must not listen to any thought that says differently. When we give in to lust we take away the dignity and value of the individual we have lust towards.
As set apart ones we are no longer desperate for intimacy because we are loved intimately from God. Human touch is important and to be enjoyed in marriage that is why Eve was given to Adam in the grade. Yet, that desire will be granted in God's timing and in His way, in the meantime we have Holy Spirit and the fruit of self control to resist temptation to keep our hearts and minds pure.
Love cannot be taught it must be caught. God is love and only in relationship with Him can we receive from Him. We can pound 1 Corinthians 13 (the love chapter) in people's heads all we want but until someone personally walks with God they will not receive His love to give away. Our job is to point people to God to lead them towards relying on Him, not on ourselves. The world teaches that self-reliance is the goal of maturity, in Christ, we are to grow in God-reliance.
The Thessalonians were sitting around waiting for Christ's return and begging others to help meet their needs. Paul was challenging their false thinking, telling them that their end-time philosophy was just an excuse to be lazy. They were being idle and doing what idle people do, minding other people's business.
The bible says to occupy until He returns. We are not to wait for His kingdom we are to advance His kingdom. Those who are daily seeking His Kingdom don't have time to be caught up in the affairs of civilian life. We are soldiers of God, His weapons of warfare to destroy the works of the enemy. When we gossip and backbite we are shooting down our very own and it is as if we have changed sides joining the enemies forces. If we are walking with God we are filled with love, which is an action word, so it means LOVE WORKS.
Paul says to live quiet lives, minding our own business, and working with our own hands. Meaning we are to be focused on simply doing our part and leaving every other part in God's hands. Life is so less problematic when we only stick to what God has made us responsible for.
Regarding Christ coming we know He will physically return, it has been promised, so we don't need to be caught up about it. This understanding should lead us to see death differently than the world, we have hope, it is not the end, those who have died are asleep in Christ and upon His return will awaken with those who are alive and together we will always be with the Lord. This should give us great encouragement knowing that those in Christ don't die they just remain asleep until His return.