Vs 11 – 12: “As you know, we treated each one of you as a father treats his own children, exhorting and encouraging you and insisting that you live in a way worthy of God who calls you to his own kingdom and his glory.”
In these two verses Paul writes passionately about his love and care for the people of Thessalonica. Paul tells the Thessalonians that he is the real deal in his mission work. He loves this congregation as a father loves his own children. It is interesting that Paul uses the uses the image of a father caring for his children. For some believers, the loss of family was a huge price they paid in following Jesus Christ (this was probably the case for most of the church in Thessalonica and more likely with Paul and his companions). Paul’s fatherly imagery and language suggests that this congregation is his new family, since many have lost their family because of their faith the new family will now substitute for those that have been severed or broken.
As a father myself (and anyone who is or has been a father knows) what Paul is telling his congregation. His love for his congregation is deep and sacrificial. I love my children and I will do whatever I can to ensure that they are well taken care of and provided for. I do try to encourage and exhort them to live their lives for God and for him alone. This does not mean though that I will do absolutely anything for my kids just because they ask. It means that I love them so much that sometimes it means I use discipline, or I say “No” to certain things. Showing love to my children is more than giving them “stuff”. It is about training, teaching, encouraging, exhorting and lovingly showing them how they can live in a way that is honorable to God. My wife and I both try to do this with our children. It’s not always easy but certainly necessary. As a parent I encourage them to live their lives separate from the world (and yet in the world) and this often entails living a life that looks different from many of their peers. I desire for them to live their lives in a way that brings glory to God. I hope that the life I live would serve as an example to them asof what the Christian life can look like. This attitude is the same in the Apostle Paul. He loves his church family with the same kind of love a father has for his children. It may not always have been easy but it was necessary.
Paul exhorts and encourages them to “walk in a manner worthy of God.” This means he is telling them to reflect the character of God in their lives (by how they live and conduct life) because they have committed themselves to Him. Notice he does not give a list of do’s and don’ts for Christian living. He doesn’t give them a list of commands to follow and rules to keep, he simply tells them to walk in a manner worthy of God. They apparently knew what this meant. I must also note that he is not telling them to walk in this manner so they will be accepted by God, it is not something that is earned. The worthy manner is a response to God who has called them to be his children. They walk in a worthy manner BECAUSE of who they follow.
Paul exhorts and encourages the Thessalonians to walk in a manner worthy of God and this can lead to asking the question, “How does one walk in a worthy manner before God today in 2015?” What steps can we take to walk in a way that reflects the God we love, worship and serve? I understand Paul does not give a list of rules but I think it might be helpful to share a few practical insights I have found helpful to me in living a life that is honorable to God.
- Love God (Matthew 22:37 – 38) - We are to love God with a love that makes our heart full of joy towards Him as we realize His kindness, grace and mercy to us. This love should affect every aspect of the way we live our lives. This is called living in the Spirit. Everything about our lives is a reflection of God’s love for us and we live our lives for Him not because we have to, but because we love him and He has enabled us to live this life.
- Live a life of obedience (Colossians 2:1 – 8) - When we truly love God our response to him should be obedience and not fear. Our obedience is not our salvation. Obedience and love are the end result of salvation. Obedience to God should never be a burdensome or a difficult task because God’s commandments are rooted in love. Obedience to God should never be something we feel we NEED to do in order to be saved, but should be a natural outflow of a relationship with Jesus Christ. Since you believe in Jesus and He is the Lord of your life then naturally you will be obedient to the commands of the Father.
- Love others (Matthew 22:39) - Jesus spoke of loving one another as one of the two great commandments for all believers to keep. The word in this verse for love is agapeo which means to love dearly, to be fond of, to be well pleased, and be contented at or with a thing. The love spoken in this verse does not refer to that emotional feeling one gets when they are around someone they are attracted to. As believers we are called to be fond of one another, to love one another dearly or as I would put it… find great pleasure and satisfaction in being with those you consider your Spiritual family.
- Live a life rooted in forgiveness (Matthew 6:14 – 15) - We are able to forgive because we have been forgiven. If anything it is helpful to understand that we have done far worse to God than what has ever been done to us and yet he extends grace of forgiveness. One cannot walk in fellowship with God if he refuses to forgive others. 
- Live a life of service to one another (John 13:1 – 7) - Jesus always put others before Himself. We never read that He didn’t do something because He didn’t feel like it or it didn’t help him advance in life. He was always putting the needs of others before Him. We should be seeking out ways to serve one another and to serve our communities. Serving is an action and it requires movement. Serving involves getting up and doing and it does not entail sitting and watching. Maybe this is why so many of us are reluctant to serve. We enjoy the spectator aspect of Christianity but we do not appreciate or value the involvement aspect. We are all called to serve faithfully and forever. Serving one another is one of the greatest joys of being part of God’s beautiful family.
These are JUST five action steps to take in walking in a worthy manner. I think these five serve as great first steps to take but the walk of a believer can be much more fulfilling than just agreeing to take five steps in following Jesus. The walk becomes deeper and more enjoyable over time as you continue to communicate with God and study and apply His Word. May these five steps be a jumpstart to encouraging and exhorting you to live your life to bring honor and glory to God.
Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., & Dallas Theological Seminary. (1983-c1985). The Bible knowledge commentary : An exposition of the scriptures (2:32). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.