Living Responsibly

Bible Book: 1 Thessalonians  1 : 1-10
Subject: Responsibility; Christian Living; Hypocrisy

Before the 1995 college football season began, Florida State Seminole center, Clay Shiver, was regarded as one of the best players in the nation. Based upon the previous years performance, most polls had him listed as a preseason All-American. However, Clay was faced with a huge dilemma when “Playboy” magazine wanted to name him to their preseason All-American team.

Shiver was not just one of Florida State’s best players, but he was also a spiritual leader on the team. Shiver knew well how beneficial this could be to his career, because being chosen to this All- American team meant that sportswriters regarded him as the best player at his position in the  nation. Such publicity certainly never hurts athletes who aspire to play in the pros and to multi-million dollar contracts.

However, Shiver had higher values and priorities. When informed that “Playboy” had made him their selection, he simply said, “No thanks.” He flatly turned down the honor. When trying to explain his decision to the media, he quoted from Luke 12:48, “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required.” Shiver then went on to say, “I don’t want to let anyone down, and number one on that list is God.”

Lead In:

In this passage of scripture, Paul is writing one of his earliest letters. In Thessalonica, Paul had planted a church that was now solid and thriving. However, it was still a young church that was struggling with some weaknesses, and confused about some details concerning the return of Christ. Some thought that since Christ was coming back, they didn’t have to work, and others were not putting themselves under the authority of human leadership. Paul then writes to challenge and encourage them to live responsibly.

Keep in mind that the temptations toward immorality were just as rampant and accessible in the city streets then as they are today. So, Paul wanted to remind them of the importance of the purity of our lives.

Perhaps there were many bad examples of famous people that made it easier for people to say, “Everybody’s doing it.” Or perhaps there were those who felt that since they were saved and “delivered from the wrath to come” that they could just do whatever they wanted to do.

Paul clearly addressed his heart on this matter in his letter to those in Rome:

Romans 6:1-2: “What shall we way then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?”

Romans 6:15: “What then? Shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.”

Again, the core of Paul’s heart was expressing the thought “Live Responsibly”, because when we live irresponsibly, the effects can be lasting, and the consequences can be devastating.

On February 6, 1996, three 15 year old boys drove down the rural roads east of Tampa, Florida with the intent of just playing a few pranks. Tragically, their game was anything but funny. They pulled up 20 street signs out of the ground, including a stop sign at one fateful intersection. The next day, three 18 year old boys were on their way home from bowling and breezed through the intersection without stopping. Their car sailed into the path of an 8-ton truck and they were all killed.

What thoughts should be our guidelines for governing our decisions, choices, and actions to ensure we are living our lives responsibly?

I. Declare A Positional Life

(vs. 1b) “...unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ...”

“In” - is a preposition and implies being in intimate fellowship, or united intimately with

Is why (vs. 9) “serve” means “to be a slave.” Idea is you are no longer your own, and how you act is a reflection upon the one Who owns you!

When a recruit joins the military, it doesn’t take long for him to figure out he cannot do or act however he wants. He is trained and disciplined how to act and respond.

For nearly 10 years, the mother-daughter team of Naomi and Wynonna Judd was one of the most popular acts in country music. Before a 1994 show, Wynonna forgot her outfit and an argument ensued. With nearly 20 thousand people waiting to hear them sing, they refused to perform together. Manager Ken Stilts stepped in and simply said, “There are a lot of people who’ve paid money to hear you tonight. You must decide whether you’re going to rise to professionalism or be a disappointment to everyone, including me.” They were reminded of their responsibility and the show went on.

But, further, “In” literally means “in a fixed, permanent position of rest.” What is it that should bring rest in our relationship with the Lord?

A. We Are Accepted

(vs. 1) “…the church…” (vs. 4) “…election…”

“Election” - means “picked out” “Church” - means “called-out people”

Ephesians 1:6, “...He hath made us accepted in the beloved.”

B. We Are Assured

(vs. 1) “…grace be unto you, and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Paul immediately places emphasis upon their new relationship. We should live responsibly because of the great grace and peace we receive daily from the Lord.

Read John 10: 28, 29

II. Determine A Purposeful Life

(vs. 3) “…work of faith…labor of love…patience of hope…”

Salvation had changed their lives! They now were living with a purpose! Oh, the emptiness, shamefulness, and aimlessness of a purposeless life!

What was their purpose? (vs. 8) Sought the Lost - “sounded out” - lit. “echo forth, sound a trumpet”

A recent survey of church growth indicated that nearly 80% of all church growth is a result of friends witnessing to friends and relatives to relatives.

Were not tooting their own horn, but the Lord’s testimony! (vs. 9) Served the Lord “Patience” - idea “couldn’t be swerved from deliberate purpose”

Story of White Fang, the half dog half wolf, that learns to live among men. Couldn’t be distracted by chickens in the yard because his desire to obey his master outweighed his natural, inborn desire for chickens.

III. Display A Patterned Life

(vs. 6a) “And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord…” “Followers” - lit. “imitators”

(vs. 5b) “ know what manner of men we were among you for your sake.”

But, then Paul goes on to say in (vs. 7) “ were examples to all that believeth in Macedonia and Achaia.”

“Examples” - lit. “a stamp for making an impression.”

Here’s what Paul is saying, “I was careful and cautious of what I did when I was with you because you were watching and learning from me. But, you must be careful and cautious of what you do because others are watching and learning from you!”

Several years ago, and man in Rockford, Illinois had installed a filtering software on his computer to limit the surfing his 10 year old son could do on the internet. He explained, “It’s not that I keep him sheltered, but my wife and I pay close attention to what he reads, what he watches on TV, and what he does on the computer because we have a responsibility to him to be the best parents we can.” However, at the same time this father ran a live Internet sex site called “Video Fantasy.” He was a hypocrite in terms of his responsibility.

IV. Demonstrate A Principled Life

(vs. 9) “…how ye turned to God and from idols…”

A. They Stood For Something “...Turned To God”

This means doing the right things and making the right choices. This means honoring the Lord in the decisions of life.

B. They Stepped From Something “...From Idols”

“From” means “a separation in which a union or fellowship is destroyed”

Declare A Positional Life,

Determine A Purposeful Life,

Display A Patterned Life,

Demonstrate A Principled Life, and:

V. Develop A Prepared Life

(vs.10) “wait” - lit. means “to await someone with patience, confidence, and expectancy.” But, the words has two beautiful word pictures that tell us what we are living prepared for.

A. Prepared For His Appearance

The first picture is that of an afflicted person awaiting deliverance. “wait” - can be translated “to wait up”

When I go away on trips, Jeanne and the kids are waiting for me to come home. But, when I say, “I’m coming home late tonight after the service,” my return is now imminent. They wait up, and the lights are on because they are prepared for my arrival.

B. Prepared For An Accounting

The second picture is that of a servant eagerly awaiting his wages. Romans 14:12, “So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.” 1 Peter 4: 4,5 “Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you: Who shall give account to Him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead.” Luke 12:48, “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required."