1 Thessalonians 5:23-24, “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.”
In 1921, a man named Earle Dickson who worked for Johnson & Johnson decided to try to come up with a better way to take care of injuries. His wife cut her finger preparing food for a meal. At the time, the best way to bandage a wound involved cutting pieces of gauze and tape to put over the site of the injury. However, for cuts on fingers that was not very effective because the movement of the fingers kept the tape from sticking and the gauze from staying in place. Dickson eventually invented the first Band-aid, and went on to become the vice president of the company.
Band-aids are really useful, and I’m glad we have them. But though they can prevent cuts from getting infected, they will never solve a spiritual problem. Kleenexes are a good thing to have around if someone is going to cry. They may wipe up the tears, but they will never solve a spiritual problem either. Many people are looking to Band-aids and Kleenex to fix their problems, and they simply are not enough. If we neglect the spiritual dimension of our lives, we are heading for trouble.
Nothing Improves By Being Neglected. We get mad at someone so we lose our temper and give them a piece of our minds…or haul off and punch them right in the face. People try all kinds of things to solve their problems—drinking, drugs, entertainment, eating, shopping. None of these work. They may put a band-aid on the problem, but they do not fix it. The only solution to spiritual problems is a spiritual solution. God does not give us Band-aids; He works to fix the problem. There are many Christians who are saved and on their way to Heaven but their spiritual lives are filled with dirt and cobwebs because of neglect.
God sends things into our lives to cause us to pay attention to what is being ignored. In so many cases, the first response is, “God, make it quit hurting!” Remember in the Old Testament when the children of Israel were murmuring and complaining against Moses and against God. He sent poisonous snakes to get their attention. “Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD, and against thee; pray unto the LORD, that he take away the serpents from us” (Numbers 21:7). The people wanted those snakes gone— instead God told Moses to make a brass serpent that would heal everyone who looked at it in faith. The people needed the snakes to remind them to do right, but their first prayer was a request to rid themselves of the very thing God had sent to get their spiritual houses in order.
Sanctification involves us doing serious work with God. We have to go down the stairs, open the doors and windows of our spirits to air things out, and start the cleanup. Some people have to spend time looking for the key to a place they haven’t entered in a very long time. God is not as interested in stopping the bleeding and the crying as He is in us becoming like His Son. He knows that sometimes we need to hurt before we are willing to clean. God wants to give you eternal help rather than temporal help.
When Paul was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write to the church at Thessalonica, the very beginning of the letter shows the priority of the spiritual dimension of life. He wrote, “Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 1:1). The normal response if someone asks where you are is to give them a location. We might say, “I’m at the church” or “I’m at the house”. If we looked a little further we might give a location. “I’m in Rockford” or “I’m in Illinois” or “I’m in America”. Notice what the Spirit of God says: “You are in God and in Jesus.” He talks about their spiritual location before He talks about anything else because that matters most. God certainly knows your physical location at every moment of your life, but that is not His primary concern.
Then the Spirit of God led Paul to write, “Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 1:1). Life is hard. Ever since sin entered into the world living has been a struggle. It saps our strength and energy. What do we need? Do we need a vacation or a pill or a drink? No—we need the grace and peace of God. We need His strength and serenity to face the challenges of each day.
God Has the Actual Solution. Many people are seeking temporal solutions to their problems. I have heard it many times in counseling: “Pastor, if I just had a different relationship” or “Pastor, if I just had a different job” or “Pastor, if I just could get away”. We just want something to make us feel better, without stopping to consider that God has a purpose and plan in everything we experience. Even better, God has everything that you need. He has grace and peace to overcome every affliction and problem you face.