One of the major themes found in both sets of passages is living a life set apart for God – being holy, disciplined, and wise. Now if you have been a Christian for more than 5 minutes, this may not sound like a very new or ground shattering concept. We are repeatedly encouraged throughout God’s word to live in this way. However, in true Sesame Street style, I think this week’s readings can be brought to you by the letter ‘C’. C for consistent, continual, (self) control. The key is not just being self controlled and set apart as we so often read, but doing that consistently and continually. All. The. Time. What a challenge!
Paul seems to think the Thessalonians are doing a pretty good job so far. All the way through the chapters, Paul states things they are doing well and then encourages them to do even more! This is not something they are to do alone, but together – ‘encourage each other and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing’ (Chapter 5:11). It is always affirming when someone else recognises where we have grown and helpful for keeping us accountable to keep moving. Perhaps this week we can try to encourage others and find ways to challenge and be challenged.
In Proverbs, we are given wisdom and advice by the ‘father’ figure in the passages, along with warnings to ‘pay attention to my wisdom’ in order to ‘maintain discretion’ (Chapter 5: 1). Consistently, continually we are to hold the words of wisdom close – ‘keep my commands and you will live.’; ‘ hold onto instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life.’
We are urged to follow the way of wisdom, being self-disciplined, because through this grows true life. I can just imagine the father saying – I have been through this before – please, please, please listen to me, I am saying this for your good – make sensible choices. You won’t regret it! It is so frustrating watching someone else make mistakes that you have warned them about, and although we have a gracious, loving Father who will forgive us if we ask, how much better is it when we listen to wise advice and don’t make the mistake in the first place.
Points to Ponder
It is good and healthy to pause and reflect. Take time to recognise the things that God has changed or grown in you and spend time praising God for his grace that has achieved this. Now think – what would you like to be changed next? If you aren’t sure – ask God, and listen to what He says.
Who could you encourage this week? Maybe think about your cell group – how could you encourage and challenge someone?