Ray of Hope Shining on the Face of a Child

A daily devotion for March 6th

A Faithful Life

You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed. For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.

1 Thessalonians 2:10-12

The modern term integrity expresses what Paul describes here. Integrity is in short supply in Christian circles today. But hear Paul: We were holy and righteous and blameless, he says. Holiness means separate, intended for a single purpose. In this sense, singleminded would be a good translation. Also, he was righteous before others. He behaved himself, resisting things which could be misconstrued or would tend to mislead. In Corinthians he wrote that if his drinking wine or eating meat offended, he would not touch either again (1 Corinthians 8:13). He was righteous in his public behavior. Finally, he was blameless in his own eyes. Blamelessness in Scripture never means sinlessness. Paul did not think of himself as sinless. What he means is: He is honest. He has dealt with his sin. Aware of it, he judges it and does something about it. God knows what is going on inside, so Paul is strictly honest with himself, does not deceive himself, but confesses his wrong and so is blameless.

From that base of a faithful personal life, the apostle does three things for the Thessalonians: He exhorts them, he encourages them, and he challenges them. Exhortation usually takes the form of a rebuke. As I look back to when my children were growing up, there were times when I had to sit down with them and say, You are headed for trouble. If you go down the path you are traveling now, you are going to hurt yourself and your family. You are going to destroy things of value in your life. A father has to do that. So does a pastor, at times. And so will you, if you want to minister to someone's needs. But along with that, there should be encouragement and challenge. Encouragement says, You are doing better. I can see changes. You are going to make it. I am with you. Keep on. Encouragement is pointing out the positive values of things. And then there is challenge, saying to them, You are meant for better things. You do not have to live like this. There are great possibilities before you. God is leading you, and calling you, and urging you to lay hold of those.

That is what Paul does here, pointing out that it is God who calls us into his own kingdom and glory. These are surely the times that try men's souls. We are facing times of great danger and crisis. But these are also times of great possibilities. What a challenge to live today as Paul lived!

Lord, help me become a person of integrity, exhorting, encouraging and challenging others from the foundation of a faithful life.

Life Application

Can you think of a time when someone exhorted, encouraged, or challenged you? Is there someone who needs that from you right now?

This Daily Devotion was Inspired by one of Ray's Messages

Whatever became of Integrity?

Listen to Ray