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June 29, 2010

Building Strong Friendships in Christ

Behaving Devoutly, Uprightly, and Blamelessly Today

“You are witnesses, and so is God, how devoutly and uprightly and blamelessly we behaved toward you believers;”

1 Thessalonians 2:10 Page 1846  

         At times, Paul sounds like a lawyer in this chapter.  In 1 Thessalonians 2:5, Paul calls upon God as his witness.  Now, he calls upon the Thessalonians and God as his witnesses in 1 Thessalonians 2:10.  Paul builds his case by the testimony of eye witnesses.  As a general rule, lawyers do not like asking questions in court that they did not ask before under oath, long before the witness appeared in court.  In many cases, the lawyer may depose a witness before court, where the witness has to answer questions under oath.  The court reporter records the answers.  Then, the lawyer asks those same questions again in court, and expects the same answers.  If they change, and both answers were under oath, the lawyer wants to know why.  He will also use the changed testimony against the witness.

       Theoretically, in court, the case should hinge upon the facts.  Those facts decide if someone has done something unlawful, or not.  In 1 Thessalonians 2:10, Paul focuses upon three facts: devout behavior, upright behavior, and blameless behavior.  If every ministry team could call God as witness, and God would testify that the team had behaved devoutly, uprightly, and blamelessly, then every ministry team would have a perfect testimony.  Well, in this context, let us examine these three descriptions of the ministry team’s behavior at Thessalonica.

       Paul uses three adverbs to describe the way the team behaved.  Who cares about adverbs?  You should get used to adverbs because people will always use them to describe your behavior.  You will hear people say, “You acted strangely,” or “You surfed radically,” or “I love you dearly.”  You get the idea about adverbs describing behavior.  They often end in  “-ly”.  Well, adverbs here matter because they describe the verb, “behaved.”  Could you imagine that someone would actually be willing to testify that you acted devoutly.   This word devout means acting in a manner pleasing to God, and is related to the word for “holy” in the New Testament.  Holy behavior comes from God working through you and in you. 

       Paul then describes the team’s behavior with the term uprightly.    In American criminal courts, you are not generally given a verdict of innocent, but rather not guilty.  That verdict means the state failed to prove its burden that you violated a particular criminal law.  You be a murderer, but the state failed to prove the elements of the crime in court. God describes this word “uprightly” as being just, correct, vindicated and acquitted.  In this context, it does not only mean you were not found guilty, but actually you were declared to be correct.  God knows if you committed murder, and will render a verdict consistent with your deeds.  God rendered the verdict about the ministry team at Thessalonica: uprightly they behaved.

      Paul finally describes the team’s behavior with the word blamelessly.  No one at Thessalonica, or God the perfect judge, could lay any claim against the ministry team.  They deserved no blame for anything they did at Thessalonica. 

       So, let us put these truths together.  You should never call a witness to the stand when the testimony will blow your case to little pieces.  Never expect that God will tell anything but the truth, and the whole truth about what happened.  In this case, Paul confidently asserts that both the Thessalonians and God will fully back his claim that the ministry team was blessed by God to act devoutly, uprightly, and blamelessly.  It took supernatural power in the lives of the ministry team to live before the Thessalonians without any problems.  If we aspire to live in ministry like the ministry team sent to Thessalonica, then we will need God’s total power at work in our lives.  We not only work night and day, but we also spend our time acting in complete fidelity to God’s ministry plan. Our behavior really counts, not just the message we preach with our lips.

      So, we learn some more about building strong friendships in Christ.

      ●   Strong bonds of friendship form when act devoutly, uprightly and blamelessly, and do that both individually and as a team. 

      ●  Strong bonds of friendship grow when we encourage each other to behave devoutly, uprightly, and blamelessly for the sake of our love for Jesus, and His commission to spread His message and love to all people.

      ●  We harm our bonds of friendship when we act like we fail to act devoutly, uprightly and blamelessly.  We harm ourselves, and our relationships with other believers. 

Application for Today

        Today, I want to live devoutly, uprightly, and blamelessly today.  I know God will be witness, and I have faith He will help me achieve His goals for my life today.  What testimony will God render about your behavior today?


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