1 Thessalonians 4:3-12
Brian Parker, senior pastor
Kingsland First Baptist Church
Having six kids is complicated! We have ballgames, practices, cheerleading, tennis, and most of the time, they are in totally different places at the same time. We once had four boys playing baseball in three different counties at the same time! Argh! This doesn’t even take into consideration how individual personalities and relationships can be complicated, or how my teenage boys interact with their teenage sisters (twins). Life can be complicated!
God desires for us to let His love drive how we relate to others. Even our kids. Even when things are complicated.
1 Thessalonians 4:3-12 reminds us about seeking to live uncomplicated lives with uncomplicated relationships. Uncomplicated relationships start with making God central. God has a plan to make relationships simple.
Uncomplicated and simple.
Human beings frequently seek to have selfish relationships (1 Thess. 4:3-5). These are relationships that we form with our own self-interests in mind. The apostle Paul illustrates this through the sexual relationship that human beings sometimes choose.
He talks about keeping the marriage bed undefiled and abstaining from sexual immorality. In today’s modern culture, remaining sexually pure is difficult because of the frequent portrayals of sexual activity on TV and exposure to sexual images on electronic devices.
This is only one type of selfish relationship. Selfish relationships can pursue money and possessions, success at work, or anything that brings personal benefit at the expense or work of another.
Believers are called by God to have sanctified relationships. The apostle Paul reminds believers that they are to live lives set apart by godliness in all of their relationships: “[You are not like] the Gentiles who do not know God” (1 Thess. 4:5). Believers are called to holy living. Believers are set apart through their relationship with Jesus to live sanctified to God.
This means that a believer not only walks in self-control, but in obedience to the commands and model of Christ. This is challenging for believers to do because of the myriad number of relationships possible today. With technology and transportation, believers may have more relationships than ever before. Believers can have family relationships, a marriage relationship, friendships, work relationships, online relationships, in-town relationships, out-of-town relationships, cross-country relationships, and even international relationships. Globalization and technology do not negate God’s instruction and desire for people to have sanctified relationships.
The apostle Paul speaks of sanctified relationships in two ways. Sanctified relationships should be “empty of” and “full of.” He teaches that a sanctified relationship should be “empty of” lust and wrong. We should not be filled with a passion of lust like the Gentiles.
Lust is the desire or craving for something that is forbidden and it is never good for a believer to do this. In the Garden of Eden, it was the desire for something forbidden that brought on the sin of mankind. He also teaches that a sanctified relationship should be “empty of” wrong. Believers should seek to be good and edifying to those around them and never wrong a brother or sister.
Paul teaches that a sanctified relationship should be “full of” the following 6 characteristics. First, it should be “full of” obedience (1 Thess. 4:8). He reminds a believer that whoever disregards this teaching is not obedient to God, but to man.
Second, a sanctified relationship is “full of” the Holy Spirit. In other words, when a believer is living an uncomplicated relationship with God, he experiences and is aware of the Holy Spirit at work in his life.
Third, a sanctified relationship is “full of” brotherly love. Brotherly love sees every human being as valuable in the eyes of God. With this mindset, each believer should be careful in how they speak to and treat those around them.
Fourth, sanctified relationships are “full of” growth. Godly relationships grow. They show more love, respect, knowledge, grace, and understanding over time. Next, a sanctified relationship is “full of” quiet, which means to hold one’s peace. It conveys the picture of choosing a calm, unhurried, undemanding demeanor. It is the choice to keep and live in a moment of peacefulness.
Lastly, the sanctified life is “full of” work. A believer should focus on his own affairs and diligently work to maintain a proper dependence on God and not others.
Sanctified relationships are simple and uncomplicated. In fact, two sisters illustrate this perfectly. Their names are Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-42).
Martha had welcomed Jesus into her home and was distracted by much serving. She was making her life complicated by trying to impress Jesus with her service. Mary, on the other hand, was sitting at Jesus’ feet, hearing Him teach.
Most of us, as believers, are distracted with much serving. We serve our kids, our spouse, our church, our schools, and so on, but Jesus said Mary had chosen the “good portion.” She chose the simple relationship. She chose the uncomplicated position of being with Jesus. This gives us a model to follow in our relationships. Focus on your relationship with Jesus, and it will make your other relationships simple and uncomplicated.