The blued steel barrel and the rich, walnut-finish stock glistened as I picked up grandpa’s Remington 11-87, semi-automatic, 12-gauge shotgun. She was gorgeous -the perfect blend of wood and metal, a precision piece of equipment. Over the next couple of months, I learned how to clean her well, and how to store her in such a way that she wouldn’t be damaged. But the gun was not just a trinket to be stored on the shelf. She had a purpose. Guns go “boom!”
I spent the next couple of years with an experienced duck hunter, learning how to set decoys and how to perfect my call so that I could always reach my bag limit. Every time we went hunting, I would load up grandpa’s gun, and take her to do the precision bird-surgery for which she was created. When I took a horrible plunge into the river on an ice-cold morning, she plunged with me. On another occasion, when my canoe nearly cap-sized in the early-morning darkness of a rushing forest stream, there was my shotgun by my side. I kept her clean, and when it came time to harvest some ducks, she was ready to do her job.
That 12-gauge was created for a purpose. With the shout, “Cut ‘em all, Jack!” we would raise our guns to our shoulder, tracking the air-borne ducks this way or that, and with a “Blam! Blam! Blam!” that gun was accomplishing the very thing for which Remington had created her. The delicious smell of burnt powder would linger for a moment in the crisp swamp air, and the hunt would be over. After the hunt, I would sit on my front porch in my rocking chair and clean my gun once again before putting her away until the next week.
As we come to 1 Thessalonians 4, we see that just as my gun has a specific purpose, we as believers also have a specific purpose for which God extended His grace to us. Just as it would be unnatural for me to use my gun as a baseball bat or a sledge-hammer, it is unnatural for a believer to exist outside of his God-ordained design. God saved us, and now He calls us into a very specific purpose. As 1 Corinthians 6 says, “you are not your own, you are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and your spirit, which are God’s.
In chapter 4 of his epistle to the Thessalonians, Paul tells the believers that they “ought to walk and to please God.” He goes on to say that “this is the will of God, even your sanctification that ye should abstain from fornication.” You were saved for a purpose. Peter teaches this same truth in 1 Peter 1:15, “As he which has called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation (lifestyle).” Just as my 12-gauge is most perfectly fulfilling what she was created for when I am dropping ducks out of the air, you will most perfectly fulfill what God saved you for when you are living a life that is set apart from sin and committed to serving only His desires.
Food For Thought: Reread 1 Thessalonians 4:1-6. What are at least two specific areas that Paul speaks of in regards to a life committed to holy living?