Rapid Fire Christian Living*
- encourage one another and build one another up (v.11)
- respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you (12)
- to esteem them very highly in love because of their work (13)
- be at peace among yourselves (13)
- admonish the idle (14)
- encourage the fainthearted (14)
- help the weak (14)
- be patient with all (14)
- no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone (15)
- rejoice always (16)
- pray without ceasing (17)
- give thanks in all circumstances (18)
- do not quench the Spirit (19)
- do not despise prophecies but test everything; hold fast what is good (20-21)
- abstain from every form of evil (22)
*Christian thought, like any religious thought, can easily become a succession of DOs and DON'Ts. There is a tendency in the heart and mind of man to create a moral checklist of what God does and doesn't approve. The next step is to fall into the trap of thinking salvation and sanctification can be accomplished through a life time of right living and checking off these moral accomplishment boxes.
That kind of Pharisaical thinking never leads to a life pleasing to God. The depth of our sinfulness goes beyond our external actions into the recesses of our heart and soul. You can never help enough elderly women across the street to put yourself in right standing before a holy God. And this is what differentiates Christianity from other religions. Christian acknowledge their inability to pay off their spiritual debt. Christians live in the unbelievable shadows of grace and mercy, praising Jesus that his death paid their debt, and they are now free from the bondage of sin and able to walk with God.
The acknowledgment of our spiritual bankruptcy, coupled with the life giving act of Christ on the cross, transforms us. As we see the extent of our sin and the grace of God we become new people who no longer live for ourselves but for the one who redeemed us. Our desires reflect his desires, our actions mirror his heart, and our will is to do his will. Therefore, Christian admonishments for right living, are NEVER, to borrow a phrase from Pastor John Ortberg, "the minimal requirements for getting into heaven when you die." On the contrary they are descriptions of what the transformed life looks like.
If one or more of the attributes listed above (taken from 1 Thessalonians 5) is missing in your life the goal is not to white-knuckle it and work harder. The goal is to submit to Christ, praise him for his love, and ask for more of his mercy in your life to align your heart and mind with his.