David Bahn-Reflections Podcast
We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. 14 And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. 15 See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies, 21 but test everything; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil.
23 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.
25 Brothers, pray for us.
26 Greet all the brothers with a holy kiss.
27 I put you under oath before the Lord to have this letter read to all the brothers.
28 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
– 1 Thessalonians 5:12-28 [ESV]
Tom was set aside in favor of someone else being promoted. Joan was set aside by her former husband for a mid-life crisis trophy wife. Richard was set aside by his girlfriend in favor of a more exciting boyfriend. None of those would immediately be thought of as good experiences. Being set aside because you are out of favor hits us deep in our soul.
Paul’s prayer here is that we would be set aside for a far better reason and result. The reason is because of God’s love. The result is that we would be saved. Even so, sometimes we may wish not to have been set aside. We would rather not be set aside for ridicule because we’re Christians. We would not like to be set aside for promotion because we’ve taken a moral stand. If our friends set us aside because of our faith we may not like it.
But God sets us aside because of his love. The word sanctify means to set aside for holy purposes. God’s holy purpose is to save us from condemnation and death. He does that by calling us to faith in Jesus. This truly does set us apart. We’re not like those who do not believe in him. We readily acknowledge our sins and failures. We admit we have no power on our own to face death and judgement. We cannot save ourselves.
Our faith in Jesus places us in that truth. But it also places us in the truth that God has done for us what we cannot do for ourselves through Jesus’ life, suffering, death, and resurrection. And when he comes again on the Great Last Day we will be saved. Faith sees that Jesus is Lord of life and death. All this is because God loves us.
God loves us. He wants good for us. His heart is open to us and our needs. He has compassion on us in our broken and wayward, and even our rebellious state. His love is steadfast. He never waivers in his love for us. He does not abandon us in unloving carelessness. And his love is not just a compassionate, steadfast and kind attitude toward us. It moves him to act on our behalf.
He sets us aside for his special care. He sets us aside for focused attention when we pray. He sets us aside for his glory and our good.
One of my favorite ways to pray for someone is to ask God to set aside the person for his special attention and care. It’s a way of raising the level of attention and care toward one in need. And the promise here is that God is faithful. He will surely do this: setting us aside because of his love and for our eternal joy, peace, blessing, and glory when Jesus Christ returns.
Come, Lord Jesus!