1 Thessalonians 1
For they themselves report … how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God. – Vs 9
What's the report on me? What would people who know me have to say about me if they were asked about my faith in Christ? I'm talking about the people I work with, live with, rub shoulders with in everyday life. Would they be able to report that there has been a change? Would they testify that they had seen a marked change in my behavior, my words, my lifestyle?
As Paul begins his letter to the believers in Thessalonica, he commends them for their faith. He tells them that he is constantly praying for them and thinking about their "work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ" (Vs 3). He says they became "imitators of us and of the Lord" (Vs 6) and "an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia" (Vs 7). These people had undergone a dramatic change. These were converts from pagan religions. They were Gentiles who had walked away from their faith in false gods and turned to the one true God. They exchanged lifeless gods for a living God. And it had made a dramatic change in the way they lived their lives.
So what are the dead idols in my life? They tend to be those things I worship or find worth in that can't deliver what I want from them. Things like success, money, material things, recognition, popularity, and entertainment. All the things this world offers up on an everyday basis. All I have to do to find the idols in my life is see where I spend my money and my time. They are the things in my life that I wake up worrying about or that I find myself thinking about. They occupy my time and invade my thoughts. I fear losing them or dream of attaining them. I desire them and pursue them. I expect of them what only God can deliver.
And that is what makes them false gods. They can't deliver. They're not real, so they can't bring real satisfaction. They are lousy replacements for the one true God. So the Thessalonians "turned to God." They literally turned around and changed their direction from pursuing false gods to God Himself. And the people around them could see it. So what if we began to turn from all those things we still worship in our lives? What if we began to turn to God and away from our obsession with material things? What if we looked to Him for our satisfaction and sense of identity instead of in our career, the size of our home, the make and model of our automobile, or the size of our bank account? What if we began to find time in the Word more entertaining and satisfying than the mindless trash on TV? What if we began to turn from all those things that we hold so near and dear and can't seem to live without and began to understand that our hope is in Jesus and Him alone?
I think the world would sit up and take notice. They would report that there has been a change in us. They would see it in our actions and in our affections. We would truly be imitators of the Lord (Vs 6) making it our highest priority to pursue the things of His kingdom first and making the attainment of His righteousness more important than anything else in our lives (Matthew 6:33). And that kind of living is hard to ignore. So let's do it. Let's turn from the lifeless, little gods of this world and turn to the living, true God and make Him our sole object of adoration and attention. When we're down, let's turn to Him instead of some temporary form of entertainment. When we're feeling unloved or under appreciated, instead of trying to boost our self-esteem with another purchase, let's remember that we are loved by the God of the universe. When we're worried about our finances, let's turn to God before we turn to the bank or some other lending source. They may help with your fiscal situation, but only God can help with your spiritual one.
They themselves report…. What will they report about us?
Father, I want the report about me to be a good one. I want those around me to see You in me. I want them to report that I daily turn from the gods of this world to the one true God. That I am not looking for the false gods of money, materialism, popularity, and prosperity to satisfy my needs and desires. Instead I am turning away from those things and turning to You. I want You to be my greatest desire and the object of my time and attention. Amen