1 Thessalonians 2:16 “…in this way they always heap up their sins to the limit.”

Observation: Paul is writing to the Thessalonian church to encourage new believers toward maturity and to hearten mature believers to trust in and look forward to Christ’s sure return. Paul characterizes those who oppose such evangelism as displeasing to God and says, “In this way they always heap up their sins to the limit. The wrath of God has come upon them at last.”

Application: The image of sins being heaped up to the limit is mind boggling.  To achieve such heights might be prize worthy in another setting, yet that is likely not what Paul had in mind.

Sins…heaped up…to the limit. Sin piled upon sin until the tower totters, presently to collapse under their collective weight. It is that collapse Paul refers to when he writes, “The wrath of God has come upon them at last.” (v16 (b)) Like the rushing torrent of a mighty flood causing breachment as it gathers behind a sodden earthen dam, everything downstream is doomed.

What has caused this heaping up of sins? Simply this: opposition to Paul’s efforts to bring the Gospel to the gentiles. Fortunately, I would never oppose efforts to spread the Gospel. I am part of a decidedly evangelical church. I support missionary efforts whenever deserving appeals are made. Surely Paul couldn’t have me in mind, could he?

How easily I am deceived into false self-satisfaction!  My every spending decision is a direct reflection of my commitment to the Gospel’s spread. Young Hudson Taylor, in England for training before departing for a missionary life in China, purposely lived far below his means in England. He wanted to sensitize himself to anticipated conditions in China, and he wanted more funds available for ministry.

I must ask myself: What have I given up to make more funds available for ministry? Have I accepted a humbler dwelling? Have I sacrificed travel or household purchases that the Gospel might be furthered? Has my commitment to Christ circumscribed my entertainments in meaningful ways?

This Paul fellow can become a real meddler at times. He writes of overt opposition heaping up sins, but I wonder how God’s wrath might touch me as I passively continue a comfortable life accumulating what I cannot keep while others make the real sacrifices for the Gospel.

Prayer: Father, forgive me for how much of this world’s goods I apply to my own comfort. Stir me to further simplify my lifestyle, that more could be given.