Never Stop, Never Settle!
Life can be pictured and painted as a series of life changing events that occur over a period of time. Some events are worth looking forward to, they are joyous and call for celebration. Others are much more difficult, painful, excruciating and maybe even cruel. As Christians, for us, it’s no different. We welcome the exciting, happy times of fellowship and celebration. We enjoy life being easy and comfortable, we enjoy when all the roads are smooth and straight. But when curveballs begin to come at us, when our problems seem to mount up higher than Everest itself and the obstacles seem harder than ever, we are faced with some of the most important decisions we will ever have to make. When that time comes and it will and it already has for a lot of you, do you stop and turn around? Do you quit completely and forget about who you are? Do you settle for the first sign of hope and betterment? Paul had some things to say to the Christians in Thessalonica, things that we all need to hear and digest. Things that can help us in our journeys ahead in both the good and the bad. I want to encourage you today and not only today but always, no matter what comes your way, Never Stop and Never Settle!
(1)Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you excel still more. (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; (10 )for indeed you do practice it toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, to excel still more… (1 Thess. 4:1, 9-10)
Keep on Excelling—The way Paul speaks in these verses is with a sense of much urgency and much enthusiasm. He urges and exhorts them to do these things. And the way Paul is speaking one would be inclined to think that he is talking to some half-hearted, lazy, lacking Christians who need to get a checkup from the neck up and start fixing some things. But that’s not who the Thessalonians were. In fact, they were so far from that you’d be compelled to question whether or not Paul wrote to the right people, but he did. The Thessalonians were a people of word and deed. They were receivers and responders.
(2) We give thanks to God always for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers; (3) 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. (6) You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit, (7) so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. (8) For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith toward God has gone forth, so that we have no need to say anything” (1 Thess. 1:2-3, 6-8).
As you can observe from those verses, these guys were busy in the Kingdom and they were certainly making hay while the sun was shining. Paul was saying in effect, “guys, we’ve heard how well you are doing, we know how much you have grown, but don’t stop, don’t settle, keep on excelling!” And this is where our passage from 1 Thess. 4:1, 9-10 comes into play. I would argue that Paul had every reason to make the point he was making. And here’s why: when we get to the top of the mountain, to base camp one, when we overcome those obstacles and those problems and fight harder than ever to make it to the top, that’s not the end. That’s not the be all end of your life as a Christian. Yes, you may feel like you’ve had to jump through fiery loopholes, you may have fought off some lions along the way, trudged on despite the emotional and mental breakdown and when finally get to the top you just know, it’s done! Paul said no. It’s not done. In fact, that’s just the beginning. You have done great to make it where you are now, but don’t stop now, don’t settle for just base camp 1, keep on climbing and keep on going till you see base camp 2. Keep on excelling. Paul was thankful for the growth he saw in the Thessalonians, but still looked for them to abound more and more in a walk that would please God.
Abound more and more: This means that Christian maturity is never finished on this side of eternity. No matter how far a Christian has come in love and holiness, they can still abound more and more. Sometimes the most difficult part isn’t making it to the top, its making it back down. Making it to the top is easy, making it back down is hard, because in making it back down, we’re going home! Paul also encouraged the Philippians in Phil. 3:13-14 to press on to goal! To keep the fire going. If things are going good, don’t settle. Keep it going. If problems come around and you’re not sure about things, don’t stop, keep fighting! Through God we can conquer! (Rom. 8:37)
We must never stop and we must never settle. We must fight till the end and press on no matter what comes our way because what is better than life everlasting? What is better than spending eternity with God? Are you willing to lose all that for this life and its pleasures? Are you willing to remain in sin and darkness and give that up? Will you stop and settle every time there is a problem or you feel like you’ve done everything you should? Never stop, Never Settle!