Exhort, encourage, charge (1 Thessalonians 2:10-12)
For you know how, like a father with his children, 12 we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory. – ESV
And you know that we treated each of you as a father treats his own children. 12 We pleaded with you, encouraged you, and urged you to live your lives in a way that God would consider worthy. For he called you to share in his Kingdom and glory. – NLT
Not all things in life have equal value. Friends who’ve watched a good film might encourage other to do so themselves. It’s not life altering, just a suggestion of something that might be nice. While a parent or a mentor might exhort or even plead with a young person to avoid certain places or people for their life’s sake or might even charge them to promise that they won’t do something or will do something of great importance…
The more important something is, the more urgent the appeals tend to become and the urgency of the appeals reveal something of the perceived importance of the matter to the person speaking.
So what is worth someone’s exhortation, pleading, encouraging, urging even their charging others?
Paul uses three phrases all in one sentence, translated as we ‘exhorted’, ‘encouraged’ and even ‘charged’, to stress how important this thing is that he wants to emphasise for them to make a priority in their lives….so what is it?
Paul is urgently insistent that the Thessalonian believers, that we ourselves would live our lives in such a way that God would consider those lives worthy of God’s having called us and saved us.
He feels like a dad as he says this. As a dad it’s a terrible thing when I see my kids taking something for granted, not valuing what they have been given, seeing them ignoring something incredible they’ve been blessed with, seeing no gratitude in their response.
The Christian life is a response. It’s a response to the wonder and mystery of the goodness and kindness and mercy of God’s saving love for us. The more we see the magnitude of what God’s done for us in sending Jesus to die in our place for our sin, the more we will respond with a life fuelled by gratitude expressed towards God who has loved us so incredibly. And that life will be a God-pleasing life! A life that is worthy, is an appropriate response, considering what God has done for us.
The Christian life is a response of whole life worship (Romans 12:1-2), not just 1-2hrs on a Sunday, but 24/7 worship of God in all and through all you do and say. That’s the type of life that Jesus’ gift to you and to me is worthy of.
So, how’s your life response, is it a worthy one?
What might you want to change?
What might God want you to change?
We love Jesus back by living our lives as a wholehearted response to His wholehearted giving of Himself for us. We do so not out of a sense of debt and trying to pay Jesus back but rather out of gratitude for who He is and what He has done for us – we respond by loving Jesus back with our whole lives.
And this is worth exhorting, encouraging & charging others with!
One of the most moving stories for me is when Jesus was about to be arrested in the garden of Gethsemane. This account takes me apart every single time and it changes the way I worship.
Jesus knew that the time was coming for him to be arrested. He takes himself to a quiet place to pray and asks his disciples to pray and keep watch with him, but they kept falling asleep. I imagine in Jesus’ distress, he had never felt more alone.
It says in the Bible that Jesus was so overwhelmed by sorrow that he was at the point of death. Have you ever been so overwhelmed in distress and sadness that you felt like this?
Matthew 26:39 He prays to his Father three times saying;
“My father. If it is possible, may this cup be taken from me.
not as I will, but as you will”.
The desperation in Christ’s voice can be heard and felt through these pages.
And God does not respond.
I imagine that God was in so much pain as He watched His son in the garden that He couldn’t muster up the strength to answer; “No, my son. It has to be this way. I cannot let this cup pass from you”.
And so He turned his face away instead.
God needed Christ to drink the full cup of death so that WE could be reconciled to Him.
Jesus must have felt so incredibly alone that night. The dread he must have experienced as he waited for his betrayer to come for him. The distress he must have felt at having his friends fall asleep while he struggled alone through anxiety. The ache he must have felt when he cried out to his dad three times, “please, if there is any way please, take this cup from me” and got no response. This must have been a terrifying place to be.
We can see the sacrifice that both God and Christ made that night. God said it has to be this way – death. And Christ, having understood that the cup could not be taken away, took it with both hands and drank it. All of it.
He could have changed his mind and had angels surround him immediately to defend him, yet he says; “how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen this way?”
When I read this story, I feel a mix of incredible emotions. I feel so sad that I could cry. And I do. I feel like I can’t actually talk to God. I did this. I am the reason God had to have His son drink this cup.
But I also feel an easy garment of grace put upon my shoulders.
What a huge sacrifice was made for me.
The most touching of all is when Judas came to betray Jesus, Jesus quietly says to him;
“Friend, do what you came for”.
In this moment, Jesus calls his betrayer friend. He still views Judas as a friend and has no bitterness towards him. Judas is still accepted and loved even in this very moment.
This tells me there is peace between God and I.
Christ still sees me as friend.
By Samantha Schreiner