1 Thessalonians 2:9-12
For you remember, brothers, our labor and travail: for laboring night and day, because we would not be chargeable to any of you…
It has often been charged upon Christianity that it is a narrow and belittling system, and that there is no scope in it for the highest development, and for the finest and most commanding type of character. If this be so it can only be because there is no fit conception of God, a thing which might have been affirmed with propriety at the foot of Olympus, but which it calls for a good deal of rashness to avow at the foot of that mountain on which the preacher said, "Be ye perfect as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." And here Paul adjures men to acquit themselves in a way to reflect and magnify the excellencies of Him in whom all excellencies meet and harmonize. There are two general thoughts involved in the idea of walking worthy of God.
I. MEN ARE TO KEEP ALWAYS IN MIND THAT THEY BEAR GOD'S IMAGE ON THEIR SOULS.
1. There are those who tell us that our creation in the Divine likeness is a myth; that mind is only a function of matter; that what we are pleased to call the soul is only the outcome of physical organs in a certain state of adjustment and action; and that we have simply struggled up through lower forms and survive because the fittest. There may be some truth in evolution. Subsequent to the great creative acts, and within the sweep of laws and orders established by God, something like the principle of evolution does come into play. But there is nothing in this to disturb our faith in a distinguishing creation of man in the image of the Maker. God's stamp is on the human heart and brain. Man is separated in his moral nature and boundless aspirations from all other orders because he has something of God in him. In virtue of this he is an evidence of God. His soul is a mirror which reflects God. Through this likeness our relation to Him is that of a child to a Father.
2. True this image is marred, but it is still on the soul. To be a man, no matter how low down or far away, is to have some trace of ancestry in God. It is the work of Christ to restore this image and bring men back to a filial acknowledgment of the Father. In every one who has accepted Him and is sincerely trying to do His will, this image is emerging into more and more of prominence, and by and by it will be complete.
3. To walk worthy of God this dignifying fact must be kept to the forefront. Princes are taught that they are sons of kings and must, therefore, conduct themselves in royal fashion. By every man it should be kept in perpetual remembrance that he is a child of the King of kings. What an uplifting power! What a help in the struggle to do the right! What a shield against evil assaults! Is there anything which gives us a larger notion of manliness, or supplies us with higher motive forces?
II. THE NEW RELATIONS, PRIVILEGES, AND OUTLOOKS INTO WHICH ONE IS INTRODUCED BY FAITH IN CHRIST.
1. This is the central argument here. Men are to walk worthy because of the call into God's kingdom and glory. They have come into a new estate, and are expected not only to show gratitude for it, but to feel its inspiration and advance into a grander mood of life. It is a thing of immense import that a man should be taken out of the kingdom of sin and set down securely in the kingdom of God. Pardon is a great thing, conversion is greater, but heirship to all the wealth of the heavenly inheritance is greater still.
2. Being called by God "into His own kingdom and glory" means much more than a standing in the Church, and a hope of admission into heaven. It means a fellowship with God in His blessedness now and forever. At present it is incomplete, but real. We see through a glass darkly; we know only in part; but we do see and know, and these experiences are prophetic of a seeing and knowing that shall one day be perfect.
3. No man can take this in without feeling that his walk ought to be very close with God and wholly in the line of His will. We are told that we are heirs of all the ages, that poets have sung, philosophers taught, legislators ruled, and martyrs suffered, etc., and that to us has fallen the precious fruitage of all this sacrifice and toil. But they who, through faith in Christ, have a standing in the kingdom and glory of God are heirs to something more than all this. Surely the thought that he is heir to the measureless riches of Divine favour is to put heart into a man and to stir him to the utmost stretch of endeavour. Within the sweep of these general thoughts there are some specific requirements.
(1) The spirit and habit of loyalty to God. He is to be the first and final reference of all our actions. His will must be the rule and test of living. This loyalty was illustrated by Peter and John. "Whether it be right in the sight of God," etc. Front to front with prison doors they would be true to Him. Daniel is another example. Fidelity might cost him his life, but he would not swerve from it. So in the case of the heroes in Hebrews 11. The trouble with us is that God has not this regnant place in our lives. Secular codes are permitted to regulate our actions — political, social, professional, domestic — and which are allowed to determine what is right and wrong.
(2) A very high degree of purity. The most careless reader must notice the stress laid upon this in the Bible; but we lay too little on it, and too much on sensationalism and aestheticism. Yet a higher measure of purity is one of the most pressing demands of our time. How iniquity still abounds.
(3) A walk full of love — to God and man, for love is Godlike.
(F. A. Noble, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail: for labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God.