A challenge for balanced living - 24 April 2015

Xanthe Hancox

Yet we urge you, brothers and sisters, to [love] more and more, and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: you should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.  1 Thessalonians 4:10b-12

Today’s verse is an exceptionally practical piece of Scripture. Instructing people to love each other more seems in keeping with what we’ve read so far in this letter, but why would Paul speak about work at this point? Most commentators agree that some believers in Thessalonica were so certain that Jesus was returning at any moment that they had stopped working altogether. And instead, they were being disruptive and meddling in other people’s business. And so, Paul gives the Thessalonians three practical instructions to live a balanced Christian life: live quietly, mind your own business, and work.

You might wonder what Paul could possibly know about trying to live a quiet life in 2015, but Thessalonica was a bustling, rowdy metropolis, and the Christians then made their lives just as complicated and full of frantic activity as we do today. God made us for simplicity and quietness, but we seldom feel any stillness or rest in our lives.

Furthermore, Paul tells us to mind our own business. We are to love one and care for one another, but we are not to meddle in their personal affairs. When we find ourselves telling others how to do their work and run their lives, it’s time to take a step back.

The last thing Paul instructs the Thessalonians to do is to work with their hands, and he isn’t being metaphorical or talking about dedicated ministry. He himself worked with his hands as a tentmaker whenever he could so that he could support himself while he preached the gospel. How we work is as crucial as how we pray. There is no greater testimony than the Christian mechanic in the workshop, the Christian teacher in the classroom, or the Christian accountant keeping the books.

Most of the time, winning the respect of non-Christians isn’t achieved by frantically ranting and raving. When we Christians show that our faith makes us better workers, truer friends, better neighbours, kinder men and women, then we are really preaching.

Prayer:  Lord Jesus, living a quiet, balanced life is often the hardest thing to do. Teach me to aspire to a life that isn’t frantic and meddlesome, but one that reflects you in all that I do. Amen.

Called to holiness - 23 April 2015

Xanthe Hancox

For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit. 1 Thessalonians 4:7-8

Often, I think we’re tempted to treat the Bible a bit like a self-help book. We use the parts we like and gloss over the bits that make us feel uncomfortable. But the words of Scripture are not mere suggestions or words of advice. Through his Word, God has revealed to us how he expects us to live. When Paul delivers instructions to the believers in Thessalonica, what they hear is the very will of God. God's word and God's will are in these instructions.

So when God says he has called us to live holy lives, he’s not just speaking to a group of Christians nearly 2 00 years ago, he is speaking to us.

The call to holiness is easy to ignore in a world which lives by different standards. We compare our lives to those around us, and figure that we’re doing ok. We can quickly become deluded and decide that our sin isn’t so bad. Ignoring, or toning down, the Spirit's call for holiness is rejecting God. Let's be passionate about holiness in our lives.

God has not called us to live impure lives but to walk in holiness, to be holy as he is holy. And that means consciously working, every single day, to cut all sin out of our lives, no matter how big or small it may be.

As you move throughout your day today, what will trip you up as you try to be more like Jesus? What temptations will be present? Spot them and avoid them. Take seriously your calling to live a holy life.

Prayer: Lord, forgive me for trying to water down the significance of my sin. Use your Spirit to kindle in me a passion for holiness and please empower me to live in a way which honours you for all that you have done to save me. Amen.

'n Uitdaging om gebalanseerd te lewe - 24 April 2015

Xanthe Hancox

Oor broederliefde hoef ons nie aan julle te skrywe nie, want julle is self deur God geleer om mekaar lief te hê. En dit doen julle dan ook teenoor al die broers in die hele Masedonië. Ons versoek julle egter dringend, broers: Lê julle nog meer daarop toe. Laat dit vir julle 'n saak van eer wees om rustig te lewe, julle met julle eie sake besig te hou en self in julle lewensonderhoud te voorsien, soos ons dit aan julle voorgehou het. Dan sal julle eerbare leefwyse die agting van die mense buite die gemeente afdwing, en julle sal van niemand afhanklik wees nie.  1 Tessalonisense 4:9-12

Vandag se teks is 'n baie praktiese gedeelte. Om mense in te lig dat hulle mekaar moet liefhê, pas in met dit wat ons sover in Tessalonisense gelees het, maar hoekom skryf Paulus op hierdie stadium van sy brief oor werk? Die meeste kommentators oor hierdie boek stem saam dat sommige gelowiges in Tessalonika so seker was dat Jesus enige oomblik weer sou kom, dat hulle heeltemal opgehou het om te werk. Hulle het almal ontwrig en voortdurend met ander se sake ingemeng. Daarom gee Paulus die Tessalonisense drie praktiese instruksies oor hoe om 'n gebalanseerde Christelike lewe te lei: lewe rustig, hou jou met jou eie sake besig en werk.

Jy dink dalk wat kon Paulus nou weet van ons pogings om in 2015 rustig te lewe, maar Tessalonika was 'n woelige, rumoerige stad, en die Christene van daardie tyd het hulle lewens net so gekompliseerd en besig gemaak as ons vandag. God het ons vir eenvoud en rustigheid gemaak, maar ons beleef selde enige stilte of rus in ons lewens.

Verder sê Paulus dat ons ons met ons eie sake moet besig hou. Ons moet mekaar liefhê en vir mekaar omgee, maar ons moet nie in ander se sake inmeng nie. Wanneer jy aanhoudend vir ander vertel hoe hulle moet werk en leef, is dit miskien tyd om terug te staan.

Die laaste instruksie wat Paulus hier aan die Tessalonisense gee, is om te werk en in hulle eie lewensonderhoud te voorsien. Hyself het as 'n tentmaker gewerk sodat hy in sy lewensbehoeftes kon voorsien terwyl hy die evangelie verkondig. Hoe ons werk is net so belangrik as hoe ons bid. Daar is nie 'n beter getuienis as 'n Christen werktuigkundige in die werkswinkel, of 'n Christen onderwyser in die klaskamer of 'n Christen rekenmeester in die firma nie.

Meeste van die tyd dwing ons nie die respek van nie-Christene af deur te kere te gaan nie. Dit is wanneer ons as Christene kan bewys dat ons geloof ons beter werknemers, beter vriende en beter bure maak, of wanneer dit duidelik is dat ons mans en vrouens is wat werklik omgee ‑ dat ons werklik die evangelie preek.

Gebed: Here Jesus om 'n rustige, gebalanseerde lewe te leef, is dikwels die moeilikste ding om te doen. Help my om te streef na 'n lewe wat nie so besig is dat mense nie vir U in my kan raaksien nie. Amen

Ons is geroep om heilig te lewe - 23 April 2015

Xanthe Hancox

God het ons nie geroep om onsedelik te lewe nie, maar om heilig te lewe. Wie hierdie voorskrifte verwerp, verwerp dus nie maar net 'n mens nie, hy verwerp God wat ook sy Heilige Gees aan julle gegee het.  1 Tessalonisense 4:7-8

Ek dink ons is dikwels in die versoeking om die Bybel as 'n selfhelpgids te gebruik. Ons gebruik die dele waarvan ons hou en ignoreer die wat ons ongemaklik laat voel. Die woorde in die Bybel is nie maar net voorstelle of woorde wat raad gee nie. Deur sy Woord openbaar God aan ons hoe Hy verwag ons moet leef. Wanneer Paulus instruksies aan die Tessalonisense oordra, is dit wat hulle hoor volgens die wil van God.  Hierdie instruksies bevat God se woord en sy wil.

Wanneer God dus sê dat Hy ons geroep het om heilig te leef, praat Hy nie net met 'n groep Christene wat byna 2 000 jaar gelede geleef het nie, Hy praat met ons.

Die opdrag om heilig te leef, is maklik om te ignoreer in 'n wêreld wat volgens ander standaarde leef. Ons vergelyk ons lewens dikwels met die van mense in ons gemeenskap en besluit dan dat ons darem nie so sleg is nie. Ons kan onsself maklik wysmaak dat ons sonde darem nie so erg is nie. Deur die Heilige Gees se stemwat ons roep om heilig te leef, te ignoreer of af te water, verwerp jy God. Kom ons maak erns met heiligheid in ons lewens.

God het ons nie geroep om onsedelik te leef nie, maar heilig, heilig soos Hy heilig is. En dit beteken dat ons elke liewe dag bewustelik daaraan moet werk om die sonde in ons lewens af te lê, maak nie saak hoe groot of klein dit is nie.

Wat is dit wat jou vandag gaan pootjie wanneer jy probeer om meer en meer soos Jesus te wees? Watter versoekings is daar in jou lewe? Wees bewus van hierdie versoekings en vermy dit. Maak erns met jou roeping om heilig te lewe.

Gebed: Here, vergewe my die kere wat ek probeer om die belangrikheid van my sondes af te water. Gebruik u Heilige Gees om 'n passie om heilig te lewe in my aan te wakker en skenk aan my die krag om tot u eer te lewe. Dankie vir alles wat U gedoen het om my van sonde te red. Amen

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