1 Finally, brethren, pray for us that the word of the Lord will spread rapidly and be glorified, just as it did also with you; 2 and that we will be rescued from perverse and evil men; for not all have faith. 3 But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one. 4 We have confidence in the Lord concerning you, that you are doing and will continue to do what we command. 5 May the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the steadfastness of Christ.
Paul leads by example. I’ve seen it time and again throughout his writings. He instructs or encourages the recipients of his letters and then he shows them by example. In instances we can’t see his example, such as how he acts towards others, he always reminds the reader of the actions that exemplified his point. A lot can be learned from this man and it is no coincidence that God made sure these letters are in the bible for us to read.
In verse 1Paul gives the direction and the following 4 verses he does exactly what he asks the Thessalonians to do. I know, it doesn’t seem like a prayer of conventional standards, but if you look at what he is talking about here, he is encouraging them with faith in God. This is a powerful prayer.
He recognizes the reality of the situation (not in denial). His first reaction to the reality of the world is faith in the Lord. He emphasizes the importance of acting in a manner worthy of God’s blessings. He petitions God for them to be strengthened and emboldened by the ultimate example: Christ.
You see, in verse 4 it seems as though Paul is acting as we like to call “self righteous,” but as we’ve read before, he has been ordained by God to carry out this work. His authority comes from the one who creates authority and takes it away. Even though he possesses the authority, he turns it over to God as the example to follow.
I think too often we look to our spouses, our kids, and even our friends and other family members and we expect them to behave a certain way. We tell them this and that and expect them to change their behavior. Then we get upset because they don’t and we feel (deep down, that is) like they don’t love us because they don’t do what we want them to do. Sounds pretty unfair when it’s in black and white, doesn’t it? Maybe it’s just me.
Instead, however, what if we were to show them. What if we were to lead by example, not word. Why should someone want to follow Christ if they don’t see you doing it? Why would someone care how they speak if you speak the same way? How can we expect someone to change if we don’t show them what to change into?
This concept ranges from the most simplistic to the most in depth and spiritual, however, the core remains the same: lasting change is taught by example. Our ultimate example, Jesus Christ, did this perfectly. If we begin to follow His example, then we will create an example for others to follow. It’s not about what we say, but it’s about what we do. A good friend of mine said recently, “God loves action.” Absolutely. So if we want people to change, then we must set the example that inspires them to change.
How can you set the example today?