When it comes to correcting behaviours, you might have heard the phrase “3 positives for each negative.” Before we tell people what they need to improve, we need to tell them 3 things that they have done well. This tells them that we care and it will help them receive the constructive criticism well.
This is what Apostle Paul does to the Thessalonians as well in 1 Thessalonians 4:9-12. He tells them what they have done well, when it comes to showing brotherly love to one another, before exhorting them to what they can do better.
Paul affirms them that they have gone the extra mile in how they relate to fellow Christians. They are welcoming and hospitable even towards Christians from different regions in Macedonia. However, Paul is concerned with them about one thing: their witness among the unbelievers.
One of the themes of Paul’s two letters to the Thessalonians is about their work ethic. Apparently, some (or maybe more) Thessalonians are actually bludging around. Their incorrect eschatology (the view of the return of Christ) might have something to do with it, that’s why Paul talks about that in his letters as well. However, Paul’s point to them is clear: We earn respect from the people around us not by our speech, but by our actions.
As a community, we at CrossCulture are doing well in showing our love to our brothers and sisters in Christ. I am encouraged to hear how life group members are going the extra mile to care for one another in the group. What about our witness to the world? Today’s passage might be a good reminder for us to examine how we are doing in that regard.