This morning I read some of the news updates on yesterday’s school shooting in Uvalde. Our hearts are grieved for all the families. It is a horrible tragedy. Rightfully so, every public figure (politicians, actors, and actresses, etc.) is outraged and as usual, blames the lack of gun control. I have to agree that no one needs an assault rifle. But you would think that as a society we would look a little deeper into what’s causing things like this to happen. Guns just don’t shoot themselves. What happens in a person’s life to bring them to a point they are willing to murder multiple people?
Then I read my scripture for today, 1 Thessalonians 4-5. Scripture always clarifies the issue.
Paul covers two topics as he concludes his letter to the believers in Thessalonica: present life and future hope. His instructions on how to live in this world bookend the encouraging words concerning the return of Jesus. We will learn more details about Christ’s coming in tomorrow’s read of 2 Thessalonians, but the wisdom of how to do life today sheds light on what happened Tuesday in Texas.
1 Thessalonians 4:1 – Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us instructions as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as actually do walk), that you excel still more.
What does it look like to walk and please God? Paul lays out a list, providing a foundation for our own lives personally and the things we ought to be teaching our children. I see three areas that encompass the specific instructions in these verses.
1. We are to abstain from sexual immorality (4:2-8)
For you know what commandments we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God; and that no man transgress and defraud his brother in the matter because the Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we also told you before and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification. So, he who rejects this is not rejecting man but the God who gives His Holy Spirit to you.
We are to avoid all immorality, impurity, and lust. We are responsible to one another; we are not to transgress (go beyond, overstep the limits between sanctity and sin) or defraud (take advantage of) in the area of sexual purity. In other words, we are to live in purity ourselves, and not cause others to sin. This is so important Paul mentions it again at the end of his letter, telling us to examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil (5:21-22).
2. We are to love one another (4:9).
Now as to the love of the brethren, you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another.
What does this love look like? It’s leading a quiet life, attending to our own business, and working with our hands so that we behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need (4:11-12). It’s living in peace with one another, admonishing the unruly, encouraging the fainthearted, helping the weak, and being patient with everyone (5:13-14). It’s always seeking after what is good for one another and for all people, and not repaying evil for evil (5:15).
3. We are to respect God, His Word, and His messengers (5:12-13,16-20).
But we request of you, brethren, that you appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction, and that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work. … Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances.
When Paul tells us to appreciate and esteem those who have spiritual oversight of the body, he’s not talking about man-worship. We are to follow Christ, not men, and we ought to hold our teachers and preachers to strict accountability, examining their teaching to be sure it lines up with God’s Word. He is impressing on us that we need teaching and should respect and listen to those who are called to shepherd us. We are to listen when God’s Word is taught and obey the conviction of the Holy Spirit. We are to live in gratitude for all things, and learn to pray always, in every situation and about every issue, seeking wisdom from God on the issues of life.
Imagine the impact it could have if we taught our children these biblical principles and modeled them with our own lives. Perhaps we would think twice before allowing our boys to sit for hours and play video games filled with violent and sexual images. Perhaps we would impress upon them the sanctity of life – all life, instead of telling them the lie that abortion is acceptable and that it is okay to take a human life if it’s inconvenient to us. Perhaps the need for abortion would disappear, as sexual activity is returned to the marriage bed where God says it belongs. Perhaps our children wouldn’t be confused and depressed by someone telling them they might find happiness in trying to change their gender. Perhaps we could give our children hope and purpose in life as they learn to sincerely care for other people instead of hating others. Perhaps they would find joy and peace as they realize the value and identity found in acknowledging and believing in their Creator.
God’s ways work, and His ways are the only way life works. Tragedies like yesterday’s school shooting will not be solved by taking away guns or arming the school security officers. We can’t legislate heart issues. I couldn’t help but see the hypocrisy of the outcry against the taking of these precious little lives coming from the lips of the same people who adamantly insist a woman has the right to kill her unborn child. Until we teach our children that human life is valuable, that life isn’t all about the gratification of our baser desires, and that we have a Creator to whom we are accountable, these tragedies will continue.
If you have children or grandchildren, let Uvalde be a reminder of the importance of guarding diligently what goes into their hearts and minds. Don’t be foolish and let the public school system educate them without knowing exactly what they are hearing, seeing, and learning. If they play video games unsupervised or have access to social media without your guardianship, you are feeding them to the wolves and to the enemy, Satan, whose desire is to steal, kill, and destroy. If you have made church optional, secondary to your weekend adventures or pursuit of sports, you are teaching your children that God’s Word is optional and unimportant.
America is reaping what it’s sown. Until we recognize the strategies of the evil one and take up the spiritual weapons God has given us, we will not solve the problem.