More Please is the title of the autobiography of comedian and actor Barry Humphries (best known for playing his alter ego Dame Edna Everage). He writes that these two words, ‘More please’, were his first coherent utterance.
He went on to say, ‘I have always wanted more. I never had enough milk or money or socks or sex or holidays or first editions or solitude or gramophone records or free meals or real friends or guiltless pleasure or neckties or applause or unquestioning love or persimmons. Of course, I have always had more than my share of most of these commodities but it always left me with a vague feeling of unfulfillment: where was the rest?’
Seeking pleasure for ourselves will always leave us with ‘a vague feeling of unfulfillment’. In the passages for today, you can see what really will satisfy your spiritual hunger and thirst, and the things that you should seek more and more. Paul highlights two things in particular: living to ‘please God more and more’ (1 Thessalonians 4:1), and ‘loving each other… more and more’
More wisdom from GodProverbs 24:23-34
‘Wisdom’ comes from God and is very practical. The ‘Sayings of the Wise’ (v.23) cover many different aspects of our lives. Here we see some examples:
‘To show partiality in judging is not good’ (v.23b). For those who judge justly, ‘rich blessing will come upon them’ (v.25).
‘An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips’ (v.26). Sometimes it is hard to speak the truth in love, but we need to be honest with one another. The best answer you can give to any question asked (for example, by a guest on Alpha) is an honest one!
‘Don’t talk about your neighbours behind their backs – no slander or gossip, please’ (v.28, MSG). Anyone can stay true to your face but it is the people who stay true behind your back that really count.
The temptation to pay back those who have done us harm is very great. However, the writer of Proverbs warns against taking revenge: ‘Do not say, “I’ll do to them as they have done to me; I’ll pay them back for what they did”’ (v.29).
The book of Proverbs often warns against laziness. ‘A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest – and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man’ (vv.33–34).
Lord, help me to grow in wisdom – in impartiality, honesty, faithfulness, restraint and industry – so that more and more I may live a life that pleases you.
More pleasing to God1 Thessalonians 4:1-18
Instead of just ‘looking out for number one’, we are called to live lives that please God more and more (v.1). Rather than ‘more, please’ we should live lives that are ‘more pleasing’ to God. You are called to love God ‘more and more’ and to love others ‘more and more’ (v.10). How do you do this?
Give dignity to your body
God is concerned about your body as well as your soul: ‘Learn to appreciate and give dignity to your body’ (v.4, MSG). Paul writes, ‘You should avoid sexual immorality: each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honourable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God’ (vv.3–5).
Live a beautiful life
‘God did not call us to be impure but to live a holy life’ (v.7) – ‘holy and beautiful – as beautiful on the inside as the outside’ (v.7, MSG). True beauty has nothing to do with looks. It is about how you are on the inside. The process of being made holy takes place through the work of the ‘Holy’ Spirit. God ‘gives you his Holy Spirit’ (v.8) for this purpose.
Love each other
Paul writes, ‘About your mutual love we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other’ (v.9). ‘Get better and better at it’ (v.10, MSG).
Mind your own business
Paul writes that we are not just to be ambitious – but we are to be ambitious to live a quiet life and to be industrious. This is surprising to read, particularly given the great things Paul did for God, but it seems there is a deep significance in the apparently small things of life. Paul specifically writes ‘mind your own business’ (v.11). Gossip is when you are sharing information and you are neither part of the problem, nor part of the solution. Of course, there is a time when we need to get involved and help other people, but we are not to go around interfering in other people’s business.
Get a job, if you can
Paul writes, ‘… work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody’ (vv.11–12). For some, such as stay-at-home parents, their work is in the home. Others work outside the home earning money to support their family. The general rule is that we should try to get a job if we can and not be dependent on others for our support. Some may be dependent on the body of Christ for support – such as those in certain types of unpaid full-time ministry. But this is the exception rather than the rule.
Enjoy an endless hope
No one can live well until they can die well. Death is another subject on which you are called to have a different attitude. Of course, we grieve when someone dies. But Paul says we should not ‘grieve like the rest, who have no hope’ (v.13) because ‘since Jesus died and broke loose from the grave, God will most certainly bring back to life those who died in Jesus’ (v.14, MSG).
Death is not the end. Paul is saying that just as Jesus died and rose again, in the same way we believe that in the resurrection God will bring with him all those who have fallen asleep. Paul uses a different word here – whereas Jesus died for you, you will never die, you only ‘fall asleep’ (vv.13,15).
You will be reunited with Jesus ‘to meet the Lord’ (v.17a) and we will be reunited with each other: ‘caught up together with them’ (v.17a) – ‘one huge family reunion’ (MSG). Not only will you be with the Lord forever (v.17b), but you will also be with all those ‘who have fallen asleep in him’ (v.14). Many people see only a hopeless end, but you have an endless hope. Remind and ‘encourage each other with these words’ (v.18).
Lord, thank you for your Holy Spirit who is at work within me, and who helps me to live a life that pleases you more and more. Help me in my weakness to live a holy life: of love, sexual purity, right ambition, hope and encouragement.
More listening to GodJeremiah 23:9-25:14
God speaks. You and I can listen to the words of God. This is what makes the Bible so powerful ‘“Is not my word like fire,” declares the Lord, “and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?”’ (23:29).
Jeremiah spoke ‘holy words’ (v.9) to the people of God and rebuked their leaders for a failure to lead holy lives: ‘The land is full of adulterers’ and leaders who ‘use their power unjustly’ (v.10). He accuses them of being sex-driven, living a lie (v.14, MSG). He calls them to repentance (25:5–6).
At the root of their problem is a failure to listen to God, ‘You refused to listen’ (v.7, MSG).
The Lord asks through Jeremiah, ‘But which of [the prophets] has stood in the council of the Lord to see or hear his word? Who has listened and heard his word?’ (23:18). ‘I never sent these prophets, but they ran away. I never spoke to them, but they preached away. If they’d have bothered to sit down and meet with me, they’d have preached my Message to my people…’ (vv.21–22, MSG).
If you hear the words of God and speak them out, they will have a very powerful impact: ‘But you prophets who have a message from me – tell it truly and faithfully... Isn’t my Message like fire? ... Isn’t it like a sledgehammer busting a rock?’ (vv.28–29, MSG) The words of the Bible are so powerful – like fire and like a hammer that breaks a rock to pieces. The more I study it, the more it breaks the rock of my heart, and the Holy Spirit works a process of transformation and sanctification.
Lord, help me to spend more and more time listening to and hearing your words, and to live a life more and more loving, holy and pleasing to you.
1 Thessalonians 4:11
‘Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands.’
It is rather a busy day for ‘a quiet life’, but I’ll do my best!
Verse of the Day
‘Since Jesus died and broke loose from the grave, God will most certainly bring back to life those who died in Jesus’ (1 Thessalonians 4:14, MSG).
Barry Humphries, More Please: An Autobiography, (Penguin Books, 1993).
Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised, Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. UK trademark number 1448790.
Scripture marked (MSG) taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.