Dig deeper into the message during the sermon, in your personal Bible study, or with your family or Community Group in application-driven discussion.
A helpful little booklet entitled “The Tyranny of the Urgent” warns us not to let urgent things of life displace what’s truly important. In doing this, we find some help in Paul’s first letter to the church at Thessalonica, a letter written to a growing group of Christians who were not so different from us. In this book, Paul outlines the character traits exemplified in his life and ministry while ministering in Thessalonica. In doing so, he sets forth three essential priorities for every church in every era. In fact, I suggest that we adopt these priorities as our own.
I. Give the Scriptures a prominent place in your life. As a church planting ministry in Thessalonica, undoubtedly a constant barrage of urgent needs pounded away at Paul’s mind, but he made sure that his life and ministry were firmly fixed on the important: the truth of the Scriptures. The great tragedy among Christians today is that many of us are under the Word, in the sense that we hear it being taught each week, but we are not in it for ourselves. We need to change that! All of us should make personal Bible study a priority. When the study of God’s Word becomes a priority, inevitably it leads to self-examination. We begin to compare our lives with God’s standard. The truth of God’s Word touches us where no surgeon’s scalpel can penetrate—the soul, the spirit, the thoughts, attitudes, the very essence of our being. God uses his Word to help shape us, clean us up, and mature us in our walk with him (Hebrews 4:12-13). Let’s take this to heart. Let’s not allow the tyranny of the urgent to steal from us those all-important moments where we spend time with our Heavenly Father in his Word. Make it a priority.
II. Be a person of authenticity. Paul was authentic. He was upfront and honest in his dealings with people. He had no hidden agenda. He didn’t use flattery to advance his career or his bank account. Truth be known, there was only one person he wanted to please, and that was God (1 Thessalonians 2:5-6). For that reason, Paul was authentic. There are at least three aspects of personal authenticity:
To be truly authentic, you must be honest with yourself. It may mean that you stop pretending that your feelings haven’t been hurt when you know good and well that they have been. It may mean that you stop pretending that you are not angry when you know that you are. An authentic person is in touch with what is really going on inside. Personal authenticity also involves being honest with others. Sometimes being authentic requires that you have a difficult conversation with someone that you would rather not have. In this situation, if you do nothing, the relationship is going to be strained anyway. In fact, it will probably get worse. Sometimes authenticity demands loving confrontation (Ephesians 4:29-31). Authenticity requires being honest before others. An authentic Christian doesn’t pretend to have it all together. Let’s face it, God has set before us some pretty lofty standards. Authenticity demands that you not portray yourself as having attained some spiritual plane that you know you haven’t. As fellow travelers in the faith, we need to be honest with each other about our struggles. When we do that, two things will happen. First, you will probably discover that you are not the only one who struggles in a particular area of weakness. And second, by being vulnerable, you may well find someone who can come alongside you and help you grow in that area of weakness. We need each other. That is how God has designed the body of Christ.
III. Be a gracious person. We see evidence of Paul’s graciousness in v. 7-11. Paul deeply desired that God’s people live lives worthy of their calling…but he didn’t berate them into submission. He didn’t try and put everyone on a guilt trip. He was gracious and tolerant. Christians have been accused of lacking compassion. We are more abrasive and judgmental than we are tactful and compassionate. If we are not careful, we tend to use people rather than love them. Let’s not be that kind of church. Let’s be committed to God’s Word—no apologies! But in our commitment, let’s be authentic—knowing that we also are in process. And let’s be gracious. That means that we allow other people to be in process too, as we love and encourage them to follow Christ faithfully. Here at TCC, you are free to question, admit failure or weakness, and confess wrongs done to others. We are free to admit ignorance.
APPLICATION / CHALLENGE
- Commit to learning and applying God’s Word.
- Be a person of authenticity.
- Be a gracious person.
TAKE ONE STEP
Each week, write down one doable concrete step of obedience, small or large, that you will put into practice this week. (James 1:22: “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.”)