Our scripture this morning is 1 Thessalonians 4:7-12.
“God has called us to live holy lives, not impure lives. Therefore, anyone who refuses to live by these rules is not disobeying human teaching but is rejecting God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you. But we don’t need to write to you about the importance of loving each other, for God himself has taught you to love one another. Indeed, you already show your love for all the believers throughout Macedonia. Even so, dear brothers and sisters, we urge you to love them even more. Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we instructed you before. Then people who are not believers will respect the way you live, and you will not need to depend on others.”
Paul begins this passage with an important point: “anyone who refuses to live by these rules is not disobeying human teaching but is rejecting God” (v. 8). He writes this as part of the instruction to love one another. Watching over each other in love means we do our best to keep each other from being harmed by sin.
This is a hard concept for us. Are we meddling in each other’s lives when we mention sin? In Matthew 18:15 Jesus says “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.” I feel this is the same as making sure someone takes their medication or avoids things that will injure them.
However, it is up to each individual to accept this. When the rich young ruler turned away after being asked to sell all he owned and follow Jesus (Matthew 19:21-24), Jesus didn’t chase him down the hill to force him to obey. God has given us free will to choose for ourselves. We can invite others to follow Jesus, but only they can choose to do so.
Heavenly Father, we are saddened when others turn away from Your love. Help us to continue to share the Good News no matter what circumstances or responses we encounter. Amen.