“Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more.”1 Thessalonians 4:1, ESV
Throughout the Bible, Old and New Testament alike, we are encouraged to walk in a way that pleases God. In Genesis, God tells Abraham to “walk before Him, and be blameless” (Gen. 17:1). And in Exodus, Jethro encourages Moses to make the Israelites “know the way in which they must walk and what they must do” (Ex. 18:20). Throughout the Epistles, the Apostles Paul and John used the word “walk” repeatedly. Here are a couple of examples:
“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise” (Eph. 5:15).
“If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth” (1 Jn. 1:6)
As you can see, the use of the word “walk” wasn’t literal – to physically walk from place to place; the biblical authors used “walk” as a metaphor meaning to “denote a man’s mode of life, or his spiritual character, course, and relations” (Bible Hub, ATS Bible Dictionary).
Paul’s letters to the Thessalonians encourage them to walk in a way that pleases God. In other words, he is telling the Thessalonians to “walk the walk and talk the talk.”
You Can Never Be Too Holy
The Thessalonians had come from a pagan lifestyle where they worshiped idols (1 Thess. 1:9) and indulged in acts that were not so holy. Paul reminds them they aren’t like the pagans anymore who don’t know God. Now that they know the Lord, they must walk in holiness.
Some Thessalonians thought adultery and other immoral acts were okay – maybe because this was their culture, what they saw every day, and no one had ever told them differently. Paul tells the Thessalonians that God has not called them to impurity but to holiness and that if they disregard holiness, they forget God and His gift to them, the Holy Spirit.
Holiness often gets a bad rap. However, it isn’t what many people think. Holiness is not about being boring and skipping out on all the good things in life. To be holy means to be set apart by God. It stands for being and looking different from the world because we are set apart.
God is concerned with us staying holy. When we look back at the Old Testament and the “holiness laws,” we see that their purpose was to keep the Israelites free from those things that defiled them. From these laws, we know that God is a God of holiness. He wants His people to look different than the world so that the world will know and see Him through His people.
As believers in Christ, we are not under the old law. But God does not change. He still expects us to look different than the world. He expects us to be holy as He is holy.
The Apostle Peter encouraged believers in this way:
“As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
Holiness isn’t something to fear. God is good. He didn’t just command us to be holy and leave us without a means to do what He asked. He sent us the Holy Spirit, who lives inside of us, and when we allow Him to work in our life, He sanctifies us and makes us more like Jesus.
Paul reminds us in Galatians 5:16 to “walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16). The Holy Spirit helps us to be holy.
You Can Never Love Too Much
Paul instructed the Thessalonians in many things (1 Thess. 4:2). But he didn’t have to teach them to love each other because God had already taught them. There is no better demonstration of love than Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross.
Even though the Thessalonians loved, Paul urges them to love more and more. Throughout the Epistles, Paul talks a lot about love. He says to “put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony” (Col. 3:14) and to “let all that you do be done in love” (1 Cor. 16:14). Paul also stresses the importance of walking in love. He says,
And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:2.
We can never love too much. But loving others is not always easy: that nasty neighbor, that problematic boss, our worst enemy. But just like holiness, God didn’t tell us to love and forget to equip us. He gave us the Holy Spirit, who pours God’s love into our hearts, full and overflowing. It is with God’s love that we can love the unlovable.
You Can Never Stop Being A Good Example
Paul encouraged the Thessalonians to aspire to live quiet lives, mind their own affairs, and work so that unbelievers would respect how they live (1 Thess. 11-12). He also said on another occasion to “walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time.” And to “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person” (Col. 4:5—6).
So not only are we to walk the walk, but we are to talk the talk. Our actions must agree with what we profess. If we profess Jesus, as the Thessalonians did, we must do what Jesus would do. We are His ambassadors meant to lead people to Him, not away from Him. If we are troublemakers and busybodies, yet profess to follow Jesus, will people want to know more about Him? Our actions should always be a good example of Christ.
Walking and talking Christ. As believers, that is what we are to do. Paul encouraged the Thessalonians to be holy, love more, and live quiet and peaceful lives. Not only were they to do these things so that they would be set apart for the Lord, but that their example to unbelievers would draw them in, not push them away. The Lessons from the Thessalonians apply to us today. We are also to walk the walk and talk the talk!
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