There are three parts to us as a human being: our body, soul and spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:23). At our Bible study this week we listed some of the ways that these parts of us can communicate –specifically– communicate the gospel.
Through our body we can show kindness, give love, listen with sincerity, be patient (long-suffering), provide help, read the Bible, sing praises, make music and pray. Also, by being trustworthy (faithful), not rude, not proud (humble) and respectful.
With our soul we can demonstrate kindness, give love, listen, pray, respect and show empathy. (Since the soul and body are so tightly connected, it was difficult to think of them as being separate entities; that is why we listed them in both places.)
By our spirit we receive knowledge of God, His teaching, understanding of Him, and get to know His caring, compassionate nature.
We have been designed such that our parts fit together in order. Our spirit talks with our soul and our soul directs our body. It’s with our soul and body that we communicate with people. However, it’s with our spirit that we communicate with God through His Holy Spirit.
Next, we looked at the best that each of these parts can do as found in 1 Corinthians 13 –and we will look at that Scripture shortly.
The body‘s best communication of the gospel is done by giving all that it considers important –food, security, money, even life itself– to someone else.
The soul‘s best is telling everyone (not only those close, but also foreigners) about God’s good news of salvation and all that it entails.
And the spirit‘s best is done through a deep understanding of God –His character, nature, attitudes and plan.
Not surprisingly, the worst communication looks very much like the best. The difference between them is the simply the motivation behind them. It’s when the body, soul or spirit does things for the wrong reason –done out of selfishness –done without God’s agape love.
The body‘s worst: “If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:3)
The soul‘s worst: “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” (1 Corinthians 13:1) If I tell others what the Bible says out of context –in order to prove a point or further my agenda– I am like a jack hammer in a small room. If my speech is filled with political or social chatter, I am merely adding confusion to an already chaotic world.
And the spirit‘s worst: “If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:2) In this case, I would have a great understanding of God and trust Him perfectly –He might even say “You’ve got it!” But I would be a fruitless tree for starving souls because I keep it all to myself.
Each part of this human being that I call me, was created for communicating God’s agape love and nothing else. So what is that love? Here’s that famous 1 Corinthians 13 passage.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a)
Let’s sum this up with the rest of that opening passage (the one describing our body as having three parts –found in 1 Thessalonians 5) with a few of my words in between.
Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13a)
Keep in mind that God uses people to communicate His word to us. Allow them to be human, too. They will fail and fall just like the rest of us. Yet they are His messengers bringing His message –the good news of Jesus Christ– to a hurting world.
Live in peace with each other. And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else. (1 Thessalonians 5:13b-16)
Above everything else, live at peace –let’s put aside our differences, our hurt feelings, our anger and bitterness, our position which deserves respect, our pride. These are all self-serving in nature and are not good for communicating our Lord’s gospel. Let’s do what ever we can with Him in mind –considering others as being more important than ourselves. (You are not alone in battling these thoughts which are at war against the gospel, we all have them.)
Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:17-18)
Joy is not the same as happiness; we know that. Joy has to do with inner peace and the security that comes along with it. It’s through prayer that He makes all things bearable. And remember, when struggling with doing what God wants –loving people, especially the ones that don’t deserve it– give thanks. It is these very circumstances that we are going through that God is using to transform you and me into the image of His Son.
Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil. (1 Thessalonians 5:19-22)
What ever is going on in your life –from boredom to turmoil– keep in mind that the Holy Spirit is actively at work in you. And don’t just listen to people –no matter how influential they may be. Being people, we get off track at times. Read your Bible and ask God to reveal His truth to you about your troubles and questions.
May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it. (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24)
God is at work changing us. He is the potter and we are His clay. He is our Creator, our Savior, our Redeemer, our Strength and our Shield. All that goes on in life is part of the sanctifying work that He is doing. He is working in each part of us (body, soul and spirit) so that we will be complete when Jesus comes to gather us together. And yes, He is faithful –He can be relied upon to complete all that He set out to do in each one of us. It’s His agape love that binds us to Him and to each other. Amen? Indeed, Amen!