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. 1 Thessalonians 4:1
GAME DAY!!!!!! You’ve worked hard for several weeks in preparation for this day. You’ve focussed your mind and your muscles for peak performance, perhaps incurring some sore achy body parts along the way. But you’ve persevered. You’ve pushed through the difficulty to arrive here. And you’re ready. Or at least you think you are… You’ve received instruction regarding how the game should be played and you will strive to walk in those instructions on the field. As you do, your coaches will continue to instruct so that you will continue to excel.
Paul’s first encounter with the citizen’s of the Greek city/state of Thessalonica had some mixed results. When the gospel was presented there were some Jews and many Greeks who received it, but there were many Jews who formed an angry mob and drove Paul from the city. (Acts 17) Paul eventually writes to the believers who have persevered through hardship of all kinds because of their faith. He commends them for following the instruction Paul has been sending to them and for walking in their faith well. But Paul doesn’t let them stop there. He doesn’t let them think they’ve got this thing all wrapped up. He encourages them to excel still more. Paul is coaching the Thessalonians through their tough circumstances.
There will be moments of success and moments of difficulty in the game today. That’s the way the game goes. As you experience the successes today, remain humble and strive to excel even more--continue to grow and learn. As you experience the trials today, remain focused and strive to lean on the instruction you have received so that you may become successful and grow in the process. Take these same attitudes with you into your daily life.
In this whole process, notice also that the excelling comes through a team effort. Paul is instructing and cheering on the Thessalonians. The Thessalonians are hearing and following instruction. The success is a team effort. That’s football, but it’s also life. Who are you listening to in your life who is cheering you on to excel? Who are you cheering on to help them excel? Ask God to guide you as a listener and an encourager!