Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Thessalonians Words ~ Day 24: Worthy

Day 24: Worthy

"All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering."

Counted worthy. This term is Paul's high call to the people of God, that they would be counted worthy of His kingdom. In connection with the above verse, as we saw in yesterday's post, the suffering the Thessalonians face and are persevering through is evidence that God's judgment in calling them is right. Paul uses this word 'worthy' in a similar manner in two other places in his writings to the Thessalonians, as well as in some of his other epistles.

"...encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory." 1 Thessalonians 2:12

"...we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling." 2 Thessalonians 1:11

"I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received." Ephesians 4:1

"...conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ." Philippians 1:27

" that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way." Colossians 1:10

To understand Paul's call to God's people, we must understand the use of this word in the context of the day and the culture in which Paul lived. In our day the word 'worthy' is used most often of something deserving, of something that has adequate value or merit. In Paul's day, however, this word was used in the market and in banking for bringing up the other beam of the scales. When one thing had the same weight as another it was worthy. It has the same value, weighs as much as, balances the scales.

Paul's use of the word 'worthy' was very intentional on his part. When he says that God's people are to live lives or conduct themselves in a manner worthy of the gospel or the kingdom or of God's calling, he is actually calling them to live up to something they already are. To be worthy in Paul's doctrine is to live out what you already are in Christ. It is a positional statement. 

A number of years ago my church went through the book of Ephesians. When we got to 4:1 and saw this positional language we attached this statement to it: Be who you are. It became a saying around our church to remind us that we are to live up to and become what we already are in Christ. In Christ we are holy, loved, God's children, a royal priesthood, redeemed, forgiven, complete, adopted as sons, accepted, and the list goes on and on. Whether we feel it or not, these things are true of us because of who we are in Christ.

So Paul is actually saying live lives that are worthy - that balance the scales - of who you say you are and how you live. Live a life worthy of the kingdom - live in a manner that reflects who you are in Christ. May your talk and your walk match each other. These "worthy" statements and callings are expressions of who we already are and expectations to become who we already are in practice, attitude and lifestyle.

John stated it this way in one of his letters: 
"Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did." 1 John 2:6

In the letter to the Colossians, Paul links living a life worthy of the Lord with pleasing God. The passage in 2 Thessalonians  1 ends with Paul's prayer that God-worthy living will result in the Lord's name being glorified in His followers and they in Him. Jesus Christ is, after all, the One, the worthy Lamb of God:  Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!” Revelation 5:12

Today we look at how to respond to what we have discovered in observation and interpretation with Scripture memorization and meditation. Look for this document on the Bible Study Techniques page.

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