Sunday, June 23, 2019 -
We should never quit striving to see our hearts fully transformed, or sanctified. The process never ends. “For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification” (I Thessalonians 4:7), I quoted yesterday. In this regard, Paul told the Thessalonians, twice, in close succession, to “excel still more” (I Thessalonians 4:1; 4:10). Keep in mind, the Thessalonians, especially the Jews, were gravely persecuted for their faith once they accepted Christ through Paul’s reasoning with them from the Scriptures (Acts 17:2). The mob instigated by the synagogue rulers set the city in an uproar!
I remember the last time Kathie and I were in that city visiting the newly discovered catacombs where the Christians hid out. Paul told them they should not be disturbed by these afflictions, but expect them, for we believers “have been destined for this” (I Thessalonians 3:3-4).
Yet, Paul commended them for standing firm and implored them to not just continue to do the same (I Thessalonians 3:6-8), and even though their faith was known to him by reputation, he prayed that the Lord causes them to increase and abound in love for one another (I Thessalonians 23:11-12), “so that He may establish your hearts unblameable in holiness before our God and Father,” he said (I Thessalonians 3:13).
Paul observed that the suffering they were enduring drew them closer to God, in that process of being sanctified through the work of the Holy Spirit. But it wasn’t enough. For he said (and this should be said of you and me too), exceed still more! Excel still more! It’s a life-long process. And we should never stop excelling still more!