“You are witnesses, and God also, how devoutly and justly and blamelessly we behaved ourselves among you who believe; as you know how we exhorted, and comforted, and charged every one of you, as a father does his own children, that you would walk worthy of God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.” (1 Thessalonians 2:10-12 NKJV)
When Paul talked about the proof of his faith among the Thessalonians, he noted the behavior that he and those with him exhibited. His exhortation, as their father in the faith, was that their lives would reflect the worthiness of the God who called them into His kingdom and glory. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that Paul judged whether or not they had a relationship with Christ based on their behavior. He knew that was based on grace. Do recognize that Paul believed that how much they had grown in their relationship affected how they lived and thus their behavior, their walk with the Lord, indicated how much they had grown in their faith.
As Christians we make a lot of mistakes when looking at behavior. Often, when it comes to people we know that have experienced God’s grace, we overlook a lot of sins. “They don’t live according to the law, so we have to give them grace and forgive them.” On the other hand, we expect people who haven’t experienced God’s grace to live like we should expect Christians to live. We attack their behavior and sniff, making comments about how it’s obvious that they’re not a Christian. We should expect Christians to grow in their grace, and that should be reflected in how they act. When people who’ve been Christians a long time don’t reflect the love and grace of Christ, we need to forgive them, but we also need to love them enough to teach them the right way to deal with things. At the same time, when non-Christians act like non-Christians, our job isn’t to condemn them, our job is to introduce them to the grace of Christ and let God take care of molding them into the image of Jesus. We’re called to be ambassadors of grace, not judges of the law.
Lord, continue to mold me into the image of Jesus Christ. Then, teach me to see others through Your eyes: forgiving and admonishing my brothers and sisters in Christ while extending love and grace to those who need to experience Your grace.