But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us. For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. You are witnesses, and God also, how holy and righteous and blameless was our conduct toward you believers. For you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory. (1 Thess 2:7-12)
In this passage, in Paul's view, the normal life of the local church has at least 3 components: Pastoral Care, Personal Affection, and Preaching the Gospel. But there is a fourth component: Perfecting the Gospel.
“walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory,” Paul said to the Thessalonians.
When Paul said this same thing to Titus at the end of his life, he said it this way, in Titus 2:
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. (Titus 2:11-14)He means that there are necessary consequences of the Gospel. He says right above that section that they must “adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.” That’s what “adorn” means: your wife may be beautiful in her own right, but there is something you can do for her which prefects her beauty. You may “adorn” her with praise, or “adorn” her with honor, or better yet: “adorn” her with love. You make what is already there perfect, complete, by doing the things which are necessary in order to show that they are true.
This is also what Paul sees as the ordinary life of the local church. The fruit of the Spirit is there. There’s a sense there that somehow, Jesus is coming and we must be ready for him, and that when we behave as if what we believe is actually true, being called to God’s Kingdom and Glory are worth it. We must walk in a manner which is worthy of God, worthy of the calling into God’s Kingdom and God’s Glory.
So this is Paul’s ordinary instruction to the church:
For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. 10 You are witnesses, and God also, how holy and righteous and blameless was our conduct toward you believers. 11 For you know how, like a father with his children, 12 we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.It’s funny how Paul can pull the cover off the ordinary so quickly to reveal the extraordinary that is underneath it. We get ourselves wrapped up in the idea that somehow, the big issues of the Christian life are wrapped up in big words and systematic theology. We think that somehow God has decided that to follow him you need to get a whole new vocabulary which might not even be complete or adequate if you don’t know Greek and Hebrew and Latin. But here, in this letter to people in a persecuted church, Paul doesn’t use any of those words at all. He doesn’t resort to extraordinary language. And he doesn’t appeal to an extraordinary experience – but he makes the point that somehow the Gospel makes us zealous for an ordinary life which is worthy of Himself, and His Kingdom.