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Friday, November 13, 2015

The Gospel According to Paul # 42

In His Letters to the Thessalonians (continued)

Difficulties Because of Temperament (continued)

You see, the standard of life of the practical temperament is quick and direct returns. We must see something for our money very quickly! It is the business temperament, the temperament of commercial life. The things which govern this temperament are quick successes. "Success" is the great word of the practical temperament. It is success that succeeds. The successful are the idols of this particular kind of make-up.

There is not much sentiment here. These people cannot stop for sentiment. Things that are not what they call practical are regarded by them as just "sentimental". They are not so, of course, but that is how Martha reacted to Mary. Mary was not sentimental, but Martha thought she was, because Martha was so preeminently practical. Again, there is very little imagination in this make-up. It rides roughshod over all sensibilities. It does not stop to think how people feel about what is said; it just goes right on.

And then it sometimes makes terrible mistakes - it confuses things. For instance, it mistakes inquisitiveness for depth, because it has always to be asking endless questions. The "practical" people are always asking questions, questions, questions; they keep you going with questions all the time, thinking that this is an evidence of spiritual depth. They think that they are not just taking things at their surface value, they are being very practical, as well as deep. But there is a good deal of difference between inquisitiveness and depth. It is very possible to confuse things.

Now we want to get to understand these Thessalonians and the effect of the gospel. Can we not now picture them,in the light of what I have said? They responded quickly, and in a very practical way, and in a very thorough-going way. One of the major themes to which they responded was the coming of the Lord. Right at the beginning Paul says: "Ye turned unto God from idols, to serve a living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven" (1:9-10). It was a big thing with them, this coming would take place, at latest, in their own lifetime. That was their practical reaction to the gospel, and it was good in its way. But you know that these two letters of Paul are almost entirely occupied with correcting a false element in that reaction.

Now you find them in trouble - trouble springing out of their own makeup- in this matter. They had been saying to themselves something like this. "The Lord is coming - we have been told the Lord is coming, we have accepted that 'coming of the Lord draweth nigh", and we have accepted that to happen any day; and we were told that, when  the Lord came, all His own would be caught up to meet Him. We concluded that all believers would be caught up, raptured, and enter into the glory like that, together. Oh, what a wonderful thing - all going together into the presence of the Lord! But some of our friends died, yesterday, last week, and people are still dying. It seems to upset this whole matter of all being caught up together". They were thrown into confusion and consternation because, instead of the Lord coming and gathering them all up to Himself, there were people amongst them going into the grave. It was a setback for their practical makeup, you see.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 43)

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