In our study of assurance in 1 Thessalonians, I have spoken mostly of our imitation of Christ in terms of our obedience to His commandments. Our election by God is proved by the holiness of our lives which is measured by our morality. Usually, morality is thought of as acting righteously and not doing evil. We are careful to see no evil, speak no evil, and hear no evil. We do well to stay away from evil, but if we aren’t careful our Christianity may be characterized as negative Christianity. We are identified for the things we don’t do.
In the teachings of Jesus and the apostles, Christianity is more about the positive than the negative. Christians are to be characterized by our good works. We are identified as people who positively impact others that reach beyond our lives to help others in theirs. We glorify God through good works because these works reveal the nature of our God.
For this reason, the scriptures teach us to be forgiving and forbearing of both friend and foe. None of us were God’s friends, yet with mercy and compassion He made us His friends. Compassion is the willingness to show mercy from the deepest kindest affections. When we examine ourselves for the truth of our confession, we ought to ask ourselves about acts of kindness. Are there positive proofs we have the character of Christ?
I am thankful to be in a church with many compassionate people. My wife and I have been through some painful times and we face many more. Through these times, we have felt the compassion of Christ in many ways. I am pleased to hear others say they have felt the love and harmony of this body of Christ. It is not just the pastor who gets attention. Our people look after others who aren’t always the most vocal and noticeable.
At times, it is easy to ignore the needs of others when we face so many problems ourselves. Sometimes other members are just acquaintances and we don’t feel as close to them as we should. In scripture, the church is said to be a body. We are interconnected receiving our source of life from the same beating heart, of our Saviour Jesus Christ. Part of being in the church is to have camaraderie with each member having the same care of one another. We are people destined to live with each other in eternity. Isn’t it good for us to be people learning to live together here? This is also proof of our profession—we live for Christ and for each other.
When you see the terms, compassion, forgiveness, and love in the scriptures, you must remember God’s characteristics. He modeled these towards us in the demonstration of His gift of His Son. The Christian life is the imitation of Christ who loved us and gave Himself for us. We love because Christ loved, and we care because Christ cared. Didn’t He say when we visit the sick it is as if we have done it to Him?
Whenever you hear another member is hurting and needs help, be ready to give aid with a compassionate heart. We must step out first not thinking if that person would do the same for us. Christ knew we would not love Him first, so He acted compassionately until He made us His friends.
Remember, the proof of your profession is more about what you do than what you don’t do. Be a positive Christian and let your life be filled with good works.
Pastor V. Mark Smith