Summary: In a world that teaches us to return evil for evil, followers of Jesus must take a different path!
• WTC Video
• SLIDE #1
• The paradox of the world we live in is that from horrific tragedies such as 9/11, we can experience the worst that mankind has to offer to humanity, and we can all experience the goodness in people all during the same tragedy.
• The terror attacks of 9/11 will be forever etched into the minds of those who saw it both in person and as it played out on the news.
• The images of the towers coming down, along with the death and destruction was staggering.
• Through the senseless evil that caused the event, we also saw mind-blowing images of hero’s running back into the collapsing towers, giving no thought to their own safety as they sought to save as many people as possible from death.
• When we watch the news, it really should be called the Bad News, because we watch 28 minutes of terrible stuff happening, then we get a 30 second feel-good story at the end. ARGH!
• We live in a dog eat dog, look out for number one world. We are taught that we have no creator, that we evolved from nothing then to apes, then to what we are now.
• We are told that this world is built on survival of the fittest, and we marvel at the bad stuff we see.
• For the follower of Jesus, something has to change. We cannot handle life as the world handles life.
• When you look at how Jesus treated people even in the face of adversity, Jesus displayed a sense of goodness and kindness toward people.
• Jesus did not fly off the handle at the first sign of Him not getting His way.
• Today we will examine the quality of goodness. The dictionary defines GOODNESS as, MORAL EXCELLENCE, VIRTUE, KINDLY FEELINGS, KINDNESS, GENEROSITY, EXCELLENCE OF QUALITY, THE BEST PART OF ANYTHING.
• When you parse the various flavors of the definition of goodness, you can see a picture of Jesus in all of them.
• WE have a choice as to which path we want to follow in life. The path of evil for evil or the path to goodness.
• Let’s turn to 1 Thessalonians 5:15 to see what we can learn about how to follow the path of goodness.
• SLIDE #2
• 1 Thessalonians 5:15 (HCSB) See to it that no one repays evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good for one another and for all.
• SLIDE #3
I. Following the path of goodness requires a new mindset. Evil for Evil.
• In the world we live in, we have to make a decision each time we are wronged. We have to make a decision each time we are faced with doing the right thing or doing to wrong thing.
• The choices are not always easy.
• In the context of 1 Thessalonians 5:15, in the previous 14 verses, Paul is speaking concerning the subject of the DAY OF THE LORD, the Second Coming.
• Most of the letter to the Thessalonica’s was meant to encourage them to keep the faith as they labored for the Lord in the midst of suffering and affliction.
• Paul mentions the Day of the Lord in each chapter of this letter as a way to help keep the people focused.
• The church was suffering a great deal of persecution, but that persecution was not to be used as an excuse to return evil for evil.
• In chapter 5 Paul reminds those in Christ that they are not children of the darkness, but rather they are children of the light!
• As children of the light, we are called to a higher level of conduct.
• When we are being mistreated, or as in the case of the church in Thessalonica, being persecuted, we have to develop a new mindset concerning how we will deal with the issue.
• When I worked at Square D, my friends always said they would not get even for something done to them, they would get ahead.
• This meant that if someone wronged them, they would not only get even, but they would go beyond getting even just for an extra incentive not to be messed with.
• Do you how hard it is to not want vengeance against someone who wronged you?
• To habitually be able to do this, it takes a new mindset.
• Vengeance and retaliation, or as the passage states, returning evil for evil is what the world teaches.
• As we become transformed into the image of Jesus, we have to resist this way of thinking.
• Romans 12:1-2 tells us we are to live with a renewed mind.