In His Letters to the Thessalonians (continued)
A Pure Spirit and a Clean Start (continued)
Now, that is the desire of the Lord, that is our desire for you, and it should be the desire of our hearts for ourselves. Although we may not have succeeded, let us not give up hope that some may yet give thanks for us, that we may be an example, that in some things, at any rate, it may be true of us as it was of these. Paul says here: "Ye became imitators of us" (1 Thess. 1:6). The Lord help us to be such an example that we could invite others, in some respects at least, to imitate us, without any spiritual pride.
Well, if this is to be so, the start must be a clean one. You see, quite evidently, as these Thessalonians listened to Paul preaching the good tidings, their minds and hearts were free from prejudice. They would not have come to the conclusion to which they did come if there had been any prejudice, they had already closed down the matter with their minds, or come to a set position. They were open in heart from the outset, ready for whatever was of God, and that created a capacity for discerning what was of God. You will never know whether a thing is of God if you entertain prejudice, if you have already judged it, if already you have come to a fixed position. If you are settled in your mind, closed in your heart, harbor suspicions and fears, you have already sabotaged the work of the Holy Spirit, and you will never know if the thing is of God. You must be open-hearted, open-minded, free from suspicions and prejudices, and ready in this attitude - 'Now, if there is anything of the Lord, anything of God, I am ready for that, no matter through whom it comes, how it comes, where it comes. If it is of God, I am ready for it.' That creates a disposition to which the Holy Spirit can bear witness, and makes things possible for the Lord.3
Now, as we shall see, that is exactly how these Thessalonians were. They received the Word, yes, in much affliction, but they received it as the Word of God, not as the word of man. Because of their purity of spirit, they had a sense - "This thing is right, this is of God!" That was a good start. As I said earlier, it may be that some of us will have to get back somewhere to make that start again. To any reading these words, who may be of advanced years in the Christian life, I would say: Dear friend, if you have anywhere on the road become in any way affected, infected, by prejudice and suspicion, you have closed the door to anything further of God. Let us clearly understand that. It is true that -
"The Lord hath yet more light and truth
To break forth from His Word".
We have not yet exhausted all that the Lord has to show us in His Word; but He will only show it to the pure in heart. "The pure in heart ... shall see God" (Matthew 5:8).
These Thessalonians, then, had a pure spirit from the start.
(continued with # 40 - (Mutuality and Maturity)