It is one of my favorite words and a goal in my life though I am sure most of the time I fall far short of it.
In Thessalonians 4 Paul writes, “Excel still more.” It would be easy to take those words and build my own little pep talk on striving for excellence. Then I could write what I wanted and make it say what I desired. The only problem with that is you would then have a message from man and not receive God’s communication. So what is God’s message to us about excellence in this passage?
When we read those words in context, Paul writes that the Thessalonians had received instructions from him on how to walk and please God and then he pens, “Excel still more.” He adds that they knew the commandments given to them from him by the authority of the Lord Jesus. This then is God’s will, your sanctification (your setting apart for holy living), that you abstain from sexual immorality. Possess your vessel in sanctification and honor, not in lustful passion. Do not transgress and defraud your brother because God has not called us to impurity but in sanctification. Finally, he says the basis of this love of the brethren in Christ comes from God as He taught us to love one another.
When Paul writes, “Excel still more,” he is talking about striving for excellence by keeping”your life sexually pure. Excel in purity and in your treatment of others including the opposite sex. What a concept. There is far more in that passage than we can discuss in this short writing but consider these thoughts.
First, if we are to live as God desires, God’s people should abstain from sexual immorality. The Greek word in this passage means no premarital or extra-marital sexual relationships.
Second, God desires that we live not in lustful passion but in sanctification and honor. In today’s sexually saturated world, a person can easily give into lustful passion. However, God’s man and woman do not seek to go there. Rather each person possesses his or her body in sanctification and honor, doing the right thing with one’s spouse and’other people. In “Strike The Original Match,” Charles Swindoll quotes from an actor, well known for his romantic roles on films, being interviewed on a television talk show. When asked “What makes a great lover?” the actor said something like, “A great lover is someone who can satisfy one woman all her life long…and who can be satisfied by one woman all his life long. A great lover is not someone who goes from woman to woman to woman. Any dog can do that.”
Third, do not transgress or defraud your brother. This includes not taking the spouse of another person, not taking the purity of anyone from them in the heat of the moment, and not hurting another person by violating them in or out of the marriage.
Fourth, as we seek to excel, love is at the forefront in all we do. This Greek word for love means to desire the best for the other person. God did everything out of love and wanting the best for us. We too are to emulate that in our relationships with those of the opposite sex, our brothers, and our own spouse.
In today’s world, it often seems like marriage has fallen on hard times. Yet many people deep down inside want to be married. The dream still exists of finding one with which they can share their life together. If you do not think marriage is still alive, just start looking around at how many still want to try it and have it work out right. If we seek to “Excel still more” in our relationships and marriage, it would elevate living and marriage to a new level and make life better for all.
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