We give thanks to God always for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers; constantly bearing in mind your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father.” 1 Thessalonians 1:2-3
Someone who is balanced knows how to deal with life’s pressures that assault them on a daily basis with the work of faith, the labor of love, and a steadfastness of hope that Brother Gearl taught us Sunday. It’s how the Thessalonians lived. As a young church Paul said, “you also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia.” They became imitators of their teachers, and as a result, became faithful followers in the midst of their tribulations. And that faithfulness, that steadfastness of hope in the midst of their tribulations, rendered them examples to all believers, and to us.
Brother Gearl asked us Sunday, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful to know that other people wanted to be imitators of your walk with the Lord? Wouldn’t it be a blessing to know that your life was an example others wanted to follow?” Wouldn’t it be a real blessing to you if someone came up to you and said something like, “I’ve been watching you and I admire the way you handle things. I like the way you deal with difficult situations. How do you do it?” Talk about opening doors to share on target living!
Brother Gearl taught us that the living faith of the Thessalonian followers shaped their lives and revealed the transformation in their lives. If we live on target it shows. People want what they see in us. They want to know how we live that way. They would like to live on target, but without the leading of the Holy Spirit and a personal relationship with Jesus they can’t. They don’t know how. But they see what it means to live on target when they see us living that way. It’s like a big flashing sign over your head for others to see.
Another benefit to on target living Brother Gearl taught us was a “keen awareness of the personal power source” we have available to us. Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, ” for our gospel did not come to you in word only, but in the power of the Holy Spirit and with full conviction.” Living on target makes us aware of the things going on around us and what the Holy Spirit is doing in us and through us. Being keenly aware of the Holy Spirit’s leading allows us to be super sensitive to people. We can tell when someone is hurting or in need simply by how they speak, how they respond, how they walk or how they look. We can even tell by nuances of the inflection in their voice or the slightest change in their countenance.
Is it some talent we can develop? Hardly. It is solely the prompting of the Holy Spirit. Living on target allows us to recognize a need and respond with what Brother Gearl called the labor of love. Often times when we reach out to someone who does not broadcast it, but needs encouragement or prayer or some other support, that person will look at us and ask, “How did you know that?” We knew it because the Holy Spirit prompted us. And because we were walking in the Spirit and living on target, we became keenly aware of the need. We hear that still small voice prompting us to respond in Christian love to the needs around us. Brother Gearl said on target living allows us to, “hear the whisper of God over the noise of the world.”
If we’re living on target, Brother Gearl said, we understand that everyone has the potential to impact the lives of others. You can balance the pressures of the world attempting to crush you with on target faith, the labor of love and the steadfastness of your hope pushing back on the tides of tribulation. And by living in the Spirit we can become keenly aware of people and circumstances around us. And when the Holy Spirit prompts us to respond we become beacons of steadfast hope in a dark world.