July 15, 2014
THE GEORGIA CAPITOL DEVOTIONAL - 15 July 2014
The designation “conduct unbecoming” is language used by the United States Military with regard to behavior unfit for an officer and a gentleman. The military expects certain moral attributes to be common for the ideal officer and the perfect gentleman (or lady). The lack of such attributes would be “indicated by acts of dishonesty, unfair dealing, indecency, indecorum, lawlessness, injustice, or cruelty” (Article 133, UCMJ). If the United States Military has moral expectations for its commissioned officers, one should not be surprised that the God who created all things also expects certain moral conduct as becoming for a Christian. Indeed, the final chapter of First Thessalonians encourages such behavior.
But we request of you, brethren, that you appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction, and that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Live in peace with one another (1 Thess 5:12-13).
Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely . . . without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thess 5:23).
The closing remarks of 1 Thessalonians address the relationship of the Christian to fellow believers and also to God. The final reference to the coming of the Lord in 5:23 indicates that the Lord’s return is the reason for maintaining Christian conduct toward others and a vital relationship with God.
The first aspect of godly conduct addressed is demonstrating respect toward Christian leaders (5:12-13). The leaders mentioned in those verses were the elders in the Thessalonian church (possibly deacons also, and maybe some others in various positions, but certainly elders, then possibly deacons). Scripture teaches appreciation for these leaders (cf. 1 Pet 5:1-9), in addition to all authorities (Rom 13:1; Tit 3:1-2). The designation of those who “labor among you” is not exhaustive but representative, wherein Paul charged these believers to esteem their leaders in love (5:13).
Not only are believers instructed to “esteem them very highly in love,” but also to “live in peace with one another” (i.e. those who are the recipients of the leader’s ministry). Leadership is often easier when those who do not serve in such a capacity are not causing friction among one another. Similarly, the writer to the Hebrews wrote, “Obey your leader and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you” (13:17).
First Thessalonians 5:14-15 indicates how believers should relate to one another. “We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone. See that no one repays evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people.” All the believers were responsible to minister to one another (in this sense, every believer is a minister, not just the one ordained to gospel ministry). Those who would neglect their daily duties needed to be encouraged to have action. There may be some who, as stated in 5:14, were fainthearted, and tended to become discouraged or despondent more easily. Scripture teaches that they need encouragement to stimulate them to persevere.
Those who had not yet learned to rely upon the Lord for their needs (as they should) require special encouragement. Scripture teaches that above all, the church should be patient with one another and with all people. The church is to use their gifts to edify one another for the mutual benefit of the body, not to retaliate, but do positive things to all people, which is a wonderful encouragement of how believers relate in peace not only with those who lead, but then also how to respond in peace towards one another.
Jesus said, “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). Truly, it is dynamic to have a group of people of various income levels, race, and nationality, who all worship and serve the Lord together. They all come together to worship the Lord, which is a powerful testimony to the Lord. The unity that the church has in Christ Jesus is to be evident in the peace, care, and concern that believers have toward one another. The exhortation is not divorced from the emphasis upon the Lord’s return. The exhortations focus upon living in such a manner that when the Lord Jesus returns, it will be a time of rejoicing because one has been obedient to the exhortations, and will thus be rewarded.
If we can help you in your commitment to spiritual maturity, please let me know, as this is why the ministry of Capitol Commission exists.
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Capitol Commission is prepared to encourage and enable local churches to participate in reaching our capitol communities for Christ (1 Tim 2:1-4). We only need to hear from you, if you have not already contacted us. We also seek to enlist individuals, businesses, and churches to become strategic partners with us in this ministry (2 Cor 8:3-6). Our success as a ministry is based upon God blessing all facets of the ministry, which certainly includes partners in this ministry. We earnestly desire to engage those who desire to participate in the ministry by offering their time and talents (Matt 25:20). If you have not already done so, join us and experience the joy of bringing hope, light, transformation, and truth to those who constitute our capitol communities.