Dear brothers and sisters, honor those who are your leaders in the Lord’s work. They work hard among you and give you spiritual guidance. Show them great respect and wholehearted love because of their work. And live peacefully with each other. Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are lazy. Encourage those who are timid. Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone. See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to all people. Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. Do not stifle the Holy Spirit. Do not scoff at prophecies, but test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good. Stay away from every kind of evil.
1 Thessalonians 5:12-22 NLT
(especially including leaders who set the example in their hard work & guidance)
Warn the lazy
Encourage the timid
Take care of the weak
Never stop praying
Always be thankful
Don’t stifle the Holy Spirit
Don’t scoff at prophecies
Test everything that is said
Hold onto good
Stay away from all evil
So here’s the secret. If I’m anointed and walking in the Spirit, bearing the fruit of the Spirit – these are not burdensome – they are not an obligation. To the religious lost, this sounds like work – to the new creation, this sounds like blessing.
The religious “works” of a lost man can outwardly appear the same as the abundant life of an anointed Child of God. It really does come down to the desires of the heart. It really does come down to the relationship that we are walking in.
If that sounds like a lot of work, I know where you’re coming from. I used to be in the darkness of religion with little true relationship with my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He wasn’t alive and working through me, so obedience and serving others was a chore. I get it. I understand.
But one night, I genuinely was rocked to my very foundation and I was drawn close and I surrendered that old life of living under my own will, under the list of rules for what I “should be doing” – and I received a new life realizing what I “get to do”.
Yep, it’s pretty crazy. I thought that I had “won my heaven ticket” with a once saved always saved prayer and some water, but I was spending my life packing my bags for a trip to hell, fitting in sin after sin into my luggage for where I was truly headed.
But God is merciful, and loving, and faithful, and true – and He drew me, and He got my attention. And now I know what it is like to be packing my bags for a different destination – and not out of obligation, or burden, or hope for rewards – purely out of a peaceful, cheerful, joy of having my eyes opened to the traps that I once called treasures, and the true treasures that are being poured into my life daily.
I hope you know this feeling, friend. I hope you know His presence. I cannot sell it to you. I cannot argue you into belief. I cannot even scare you into receiving this gift – because it is free if you really, truly want it, and if you are willing to seek it with your heart, and listen to that voice that is calling you home.
Dear brothers and sisters, when I was with you I couldn’t talk to you as I would to spiritual people. I had to talk as though you belonged to this world or as though you were infants in Christ. I had to feed you with milk, not with solid food, because you weren’t ready for anything stronger. And you still aren’t ready, for you are still controlled by your sinful nature. You are jealous of one another and quarrel with each other. Doesn’t that prove you are controlled by your sinful nature? Aren’t you living like people of the world? When one of you says, “I am a follower of Paul,” and another says, “I follow Apollos,” aren’t you acting just like people of the world?
1 Corinthians 3:1-4 NLT
You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food. For someone who lives on milk is still an infant and doesn’t know how to do what is right. Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong.
Hebrews 5:12-14 NLT
Yes, when we were still babes at the feet of Christ, needing to be fed milk, we needed to stay at His feet and learn and grow – we didn’t need to be in a battle that would have been a burden or obligation or heavy weight for our infantile spiritual natures – that would have just made us grumble like the older son about the prodigal, or like Martha about Mary not helping with the work.
But we are meant to grow, to become spiritually mature through the discipline and love and power and self control that is given to us, so that we can rise up and be the ones working hard and teaching and running into battle. Because even though the victory is won, there is still plenty of darkness that needs light shined onto it. There are still many lives that need deliverance from sin and darkness and death.
And we aren’t just talking about deliverance from punishment here, we’re actually talking about deliverance into a Godly and righteous life where God’s will is being done in our lives. There is still much dross to be burned away by the refining fires of the trials that lie ahead for us. Turning away from sin in repentance and turning to God so that we are reconciled to be more like our teacher is our path.
So, if the version of cheap grace that you’ve been sold makes you comfortable remaining a slave to sin, I’d look at the life of who sold you that garbage and ask yourself if they are bearing the hard work and spiritual guidance and life of a servant at the feet of others – or if they are most comfortable sitting on high, in a seat of honor, feeding on the flock.
And if anyone is so vain as to think that any part of this message is aimed at them and is anything more than a warning to me, then maybe it really is for you as well. Maybe there is a reason that you are eating the crumbs from my table – but do not think that my sword is raised, do not think that I am targeting you, friend.
I hear it from more than one person that at times they think that I’m singling them out. I’m not. These warnings help to keep me where I need to be. If there is anything of use for you as well, praise the Lord. If there is anything you feel that is in error, let’s examine and find truth together in the light of the Word of God.
What’s ironic is that if I’m seeking honor from men, the honor of God can escape my grasp. But if I’m just seeking to honor God, my humility before Him is the most honorable position that I can maintain.