Yesterday in my lunch box, I found that my sweet wife had packed a banana for me. This was a good thing, because I like bananas. I like banana flavoring. I like banana chips. I like banana pudding. I like the little hard bananas in the quarter machines. I especially liked visiting my family in Banana Heaven (the jungle of Papua New Guinea). Now picture me in my office yesterday, with my green, soft-sided lunch box, unzipping the zipper at the top and pulling out the fully ripened yellow banana (green bananas just aren’t the same). Imagine for a moment that I pulled it out of my lunch box, and took a big bite out of it. The yummy banana mushiness rushes onto my taste buds as my teeth slice through the fleshy outside of the banana peel. Yum! I love bananas! I love them so much that I eat the whole thing, peel and all! What? You don’t eat the peel? It’s the best part. Yeah, it’s kinda bitter, and typically is coated in some strange chemical that leaves my entire mouth numb.
Ok, that got weird really quickly, and perhaps I was up too late last night. The point I am trying to emphasize is this, when you eat a banana you have to peel it before you eat it. I don’t know of anyone who eats the peel with the banana. The part that is literally called the “peel” indicates what we think you should do with it – peel it off and throw it away.
In 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12, Paul explains to the believers that his prayer for them is that they would be “counted worthy of this calling.” “This calling” that Paul is referring to is their salvation. It is more specific than the “call” mentioned in Acts 17, “God has called all men to repent.” This “calling” in Thessalonians, is the saving call that God has extended to His elect. Now that they are believers, Paul says that He prays God would count them worthy of their salvation. From a biblical standpoint we would understand that positionally because of what Jesus accomplished on the cross, believers find themselves as Romans 8 would say, “no longer under condemnation.”
If they are not under condemnation, what is this “worthiness” that Paul is talking about? In verse 5, he referred to the same thing, “that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer.” What Paul is teaching, and what Scripture continually tells us is that after we place our faith in the saving work of Jesus, we are saved by God’s grace. After we are saved, we still are not perfect. We still have sin. God then tells us that after becoming believers, we need to continue to mortify our sin. (Romans 8:13) In the illustration above, the banana is a banana, it just needs to be peeled. Similarly, we are already saved, but our peel of sin is still on us, and we need to continually work to pull back that which is distasteful to a holy God. God uses adversity and trials to help us peel and purify our lives.
Romans 8:29 tells us that those that “God did foreknow; he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son.” Philippians 1:6 says, “being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” We find in 1 John 3:2-3, “we know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And everyone that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.” As we look to Scripture, we can see clearly this truth in regards to God’s saving work and His call to be sanctified and purified.
Food for Thought: Read verse 12 again. What is the purpose that Paul gives for the purifying or peeling of the believer?