KEY TEXT: 1 Thessalonians 2:11-13 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. And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.
KEY THOT: Paul reminded the Thessalonians how the word of God came to them: not just in his talk but also incarnated in his walk. The "word of men" (i.e. as spoken by Paul and his co-workers) was received by the Thessalonians as "the word of God" because of what they saw in the lives of Paul and his companions: "You are witnesses, and God also, how holy and righteous and blameless was our conduct toward you believers" (1 Thessalonians 2:10). The Word needs to be incarnated in our lifestyle to be convincing. Jesus did not just teach the Word of God: He is the Word of God. People did not just hear God's word from him--they had seen it: "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14). The Word of God needs to be seen, not just heard.
The power of our talk cannot rise above the power of our walk. Preaching that has power and conviction is not just one that is theologically pure but one that is authentically true. In other words, the word preached is the word lived. People need to see the Word in us, not just hear the Word from us. The words of men become the Word of God when it has first been lived out in our lives. It's not like what we heard as recruits from our OC in our National Service days: "Do what I say, but don't do what I do!" This is pure hypocrisy. We cannot ask people to believe what we say when we do not do it ourselves first.
Paul could exhort the Thessalonians to live a life worthy of God because he and his companions had demonstrated that life: "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 Thessalonians 2:10-12).
Paul uses the analogy of parenting to describe his ministry. Godly parenting is often not just about what to teach our children concerning the Scripture, but more importantly, how we live the Word of God out in our own lives before them. Children intuitively imitate our walk, not our talk. If our walk and talk do not align, they will imitate what they see in us as parents, not what they heard.
May God's word be seen by others in our walk, not just heard by others in our talk. May our walk confirms our talk, transforming our human words into God's divine word.
Abba-Father, may Your Word be incarnated in our lives, not just our lips. Amen.