KEY SCRIPTURE: 1 Thessalonians 4:10b-12 but we beseech you, brethren, that ye increase more and more; And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you; That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing. RELEVANCE Following the Lord in practical ways is often challenging. To help the congregants at Thessalonica, Paul provided a simple system of a few steps to make living with others easier, cheaper and more rewarding. The plan was based on increasing genuine love within the body of believers. This sincere love incorporated giving up many personal aims and desires for the brethren's sake. To study to be quiet, which means to understand what quietness represents to a believer and then to live all the aspects of a peaceful life. To mind their own business—to lose the temptation to know everything, gossip, talk too much, or even let slip private information. To learn how to make and repair things with their own hands and not leave everything up to others or contractors. If possible, to run their own business so they were self-reliant. Using Paul's system, their community would benefit in genuine two-way love—generosity, swapping practical assistance, keeping costs down, and limiting rumour spreading. All-in-all a great neighbourhood. That is why our key scripture was so important to their human wellbeing, spiritual growth, and community values. But there is a six-step counter-system based on receiving but not giving in return that would have stretched some relationships had churchgoers followed them.
The first time you give somebody something for free, you create appreciation.
The second time you give somebody something for free, you create anticipation.
The third time you give somebody something for free, you create expectation.
The fourth time you give somebody something for free, you create entitlement.
The fifth time you give somebody something for free, you create dependency.
The sixth time—- if by the sixth time, you don't give something to someone for free, you create resentment and hatred. (Author Unknown)
The early disciples set the godly standard of sharing authentic love, time and resources. Paul followed them in trying to embed true love throughout the churches he pioneered, so it flowed both ways. It wasn't only about praying but pragmatically keeping those things out of communities that restricted church maturity. PRAYER Dear Lord, thank you for Paul's short set of principles. He understood that small personal changes are necessary to keep the Spirit flowing freely in a church. Thank you for Paul and how he worked so closely with your Holy Spirit.
Photo by Jackson David