WEEK SIX, DAY ONE, COMMON ENGLISH BIBLE COMPANION
WEEK SIX THEME: LOVE
DAY ONE THEME: THE DEFINITION OF LOVE
SCRIPTURE: I THESSALONIANS 4:3-9 (CEB)
“God’s will is that your lives are dedicated to him. This means that you stay away from sexual immorality and learn how to control your own body in a pure and respectable way. Don’t be controlled by your sexual urges like the Gentiles who don’t know God. No one should mistreat or take advantage of their brother or sister in this issue. The Lord punishes people for all these things, as we told you before and sternly warned you.
God didn’t call us to be immoral but to be dedicated to him. Therefore, whoever rejects these instructions isn’t rejecting a human authority. They are rejecting God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you. You don’t need us to write about loving your brothers and sisters because God has already taught you to love each other.”
THE WORD OF GOD FOR THE PEOPLE OF GOD – THANKS BE TO GOD!
SOAKING IT IN: I can remember when as a child and teenager wanting to do things that I heard my friends or others were doing. I wanted to fit in and I wanted to be consistent with those who seemed to be having all the fun. My parents – who knew me better than I knew myself – often had their reasons for not allowing me to participate in the “thing” of the moment. My retort would always go something like this: “Well everyone else is doing it!” Patiently and lovingly they would use some sort of reasoning why I didn’t always want to be like everyone else. Often it went something like: “Well if everyone else wanted to run and jump off a cliff would you want to do that too?!” My parents wanted me to learn who I was and not just follow along with any plan. Even better than my parents with me, God has a better idea for how our lives can be the most enjoyable and fruitful as found in these words in I Thessalonians.
God is love: A simple and pure and essential equation to always keep in the forefront of all of our thinking. When any impulse toward any other person comes forth that does not reflect love for that person (resentment, lust, hatred, vindictiveness, harm and on and on the list could go) – we need to question our focus. What is the emotion that is driving such thoughts, such impulses. Is God wanting this for that person, or is it us, in our humanness, wanting such unGodlike actions toward another.
These scriptures point out that our focus at all times must remain on God. As we keep our focus, it will be difficult for us to do anything toward another person other than love that person. We may not approve of actions taken by that person and we may be confused by their motivation, but our call from God is to love and to love unconditionally. When we lose our focus, we find ourselves in the judgement seat condemning others for what we may simply just not understand. Our focus is love for one another – God given love – God’s job is to handle all the rest – He is the judge, not us! We are not put in control over others, we are called to love them unconditionally, just as we are loved unconditionally. This is freedom!!!
Also in this scripture there is a point of separation – God’s people and the Gentiles. It seems to be understood that Gentiles will behave in ways that are not in accordance with the Christian understanding of God’s plan. That is because they do not yet know God and they are not yet focused on God. We will see others living out lives of sexual immorality, hateful behavior, vengefulness and other such things until they are able to know of God and of God’s plan for them. God is the only one who can save us from ourselves.
This scriptures warns its readers against sexual immorality. Sexual immorality is one of the many ways that we demonstrate a focus on ourselves and our wants rather than focus on the life that God calls us to. Until we all can relate to God as Father and Lord, we will all behave differently reflecting the attachment to our human desires. Again, those who are called by God are called not to judgement but to love. We are to take what God wants for our lives and be responsible there and let God use us in His ways to show leadership and control.
We do not need, nor are we entitled to understanding and reasoning concerning the action of others. We are called to love. God knows the whole story on each of us and why we have different quirkinesses and concerns and scars. God loves us just as we are and he takes us forward from there. God knows…and we can rest assured that He is always at work on our behalf to steer us in the way forward. As we tend to our own relationship with our Father and walk in His light, guided by His Holy Spirit, following the example of Jesus, we have more and more empathy toward all those in our path and can love them just like our Father does! We will want for them also the peace and freedom that can only come from God.
Lord, help us be your vessels of love – throwing aside all judgments and misunderstandings – allowing you to handle our own stuff and allowing you to handle the world as we love unconditionally and purely always reflecting you. Forgive us when we fall short. Strengthen our focus on You and use us for Your Kingdom’s sake!