Saturday, May 31, 2014

1Thessalonians 4:9-12 comments: honest work

9 ¶  But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another. 10  And indeed ye do it toward all the brethren which are in all Macedonia: but we beseech you, brethren, that ye increase more and more;

11  And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you; 12  That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing.

Paul reinforces a statement he made in 3:6 regarding the good news that Timothy brought them about their faith and charity. The Holy Spirit teaches the Thessalonian Christians to love each other, as Jesus taught his disciples.

John 13:34  A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. 35  By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

The Thessalonians have extended their care and concern to all Christians in the region and Paul wishes that this attitude would continue to grow.

Paul also instructs them on their position in making a living. They are to quietly go about their business and, “work with their own hands.” He says he commanded them to do this. The common laborer, the craftsman, and the simple man or woman of business and trade have lives that are consistent with a Christian witness. The person who gambles with other people’s money, exploits their fears and anxieties, or manipulates them is not consistent with a Christian witness. Early Christians said that being a Roman soldier or even the Emperor himself were not consistent with being a Christian as allegiances were misplaced and religious idolatry was commanded as patriotism and obedience to the state.

It would be very difficult for a Bible-believing Christian to be President of the United States. The power to send millions to their death in war, the need to negotiate and accept behavior that is against God’s mandates, and to deceive the people, “for their own good,” is not consistent with being a Christian. The chief executive is not a pastor or a messiah but a manager of the public’s interest. To demand that this person declare himself a faithful Christian as a condition for a vote is to ensure that liars, murderers, and thieves run for the office. The country is not a church and the president is not a pastor.

In President Andrew Jackson’s day, in the early part of the 1800s, it was unlawful in some parts of the nation for a preacher to even run for political office. Andrew Jackson refused to participate in a day of prayer for a cholera epidemic because he said that the people had pastors for that and that wasn’t the place of the president. Within a few decades, Abraham Lincoln was declaring national days of prayer and thanksgiving. The presidency was approaching the level of the pastorate and the lines between faith and politics were becoming confused.

James Madison, noted by many as the, “Father of the Constitution,” stated that the government had nothing to say about a man’s duty to his Creator. The government should not only not intrude but remain silent regarding religion. He was even opposed to paid chaplains in the military as eventually the government would tell them what they could and couldn’t pray, which has happened.  Even today, some vestiges of that sentiment remain as the Supreme Court recently, in a unanimous decision of both liberals and conservatives, upheld the idea that the Federal Government has nothing to say regarding a church organization’s relationship with its ministers in that church and pastor are exempt from employee protections extended to everyone else (Hosanna-Tabor Lutheran Church and School vs. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission).

In today’s climate I would be extremely suspicious of a person running for high office who insisted that he was, “doing God’s will,” or that God had spoken to him  and told him to run for office. I would be more impressed if the candidate declared his personal faith but did not add, “God wills it,” to his most important opinions. Remember what John Emerich Edward Dalberg-Acton, 1st Baron Acton, Lord Acton, said and remember the entire quote that pertains to this subject. It is essential in understanding history.

“…Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority, still more when you superadd the tendency or the certainty of corruption by authority. There is no worse heresy than that the office sanctifies the holder of it….”

Americans, even Christian Americans, have exchanged their faith in God for faith in government and both left and right are looking for someone to worship, a messiah figure, hence the devotion to the cults of Reagan and Clinton, and Obama in the first part of his presidency.

Paul calls Christians to walk quietly minding their own business, work with their own hands in some useful manner, and be honest in their dealings with the outside world so that they will lack in nothing which they need to survive in this hostile environment. He will reinforce this in his second letter to the Thessalonians.

2Thessalonians 3:11 For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies.12  Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.

And to Timothy in praying for leaders, none of whom were Christians when this was penned.

1Timothy 2:1 ¶  I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; 2  For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. 3  For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; 4  Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

The ideal Christian life is not one of ambition toward the world, of gaining money, power, and influence but of ambition toward God of saving souls from destruction and living a separated and sanctified life pleasing to God. Teach your children well lest they become enamored of the world and get trapped in Satan’s web.

As regards to the one who complains that this attitude would render Christians has having no influence in the world I would argue that if the huge number of those who claim to be religious in this country didn’t support the pornography industry, the liquor industry, the entertainment industry, or voted only for leaders who showed a consistent testimony of their commitment to obey the law those industries would collapse and political leaders would be pressured to be much different than they are now. You have no greater influence than your own personal actions and consistent moral witness, honoring Christ in everything you do or say.

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