One of the mightiest heroes of Ancient Greece was the famed Achilles. According to legend his mother, Thetis, held him by his heel and dipped him into the river Styx in an attempt to make him invincible. Unfortunately for Achilles, the heel by which his mother held him was never submerged in the water, leaving him with one small vulnerable spot on his body. During the battle of Troy, Achilles demonstrated his enormous strength. No Trojan soldier could withstand him. For a time, Achilles piled up one glorious victory after another for his cause. But one day Paris shot an arrow at Achilles that happened to strike him in his only weak spot, thus dispatching him to Hades.
In recent years the Church has been routinely disappointed by Christian leaders. Many of them did much to dispel darkness, refute God’s enemies, and reach people for Christ. But they had one or more weak spots in their life. Eventually, Satan’s darts found their weak spots and brought them down.
When writing to the Thessalonians, the apostle Paul wrapped up his letter by saying, “Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely. And may your whole spirit, soul, and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, he will do it” (1 Thess. 5:23-24). These verses are packed with important truths for today’s leaders!
First, we serve a God of peace. We can tell we are in step with his leading when our life and leadership are characterized by peace. We can also determine when our life is out of step with his leading by our lack of peace. I have known leaders whose family was in turmoil and work relationships were tense, yet they claimed that everything between them and God was “good.” When we walk with God, we may experience trials (Jesus endured a cross), but our life will be characterized by the peace of God that surpasses all understanding. A lack of peace is a warning light that something is amiss.
Second, Paul prayed that Christians would be sanctified completely. To be sanctified means to be set apart for a holy purpose. Paul said it is not enough to give our mind to God but withhold our heart, or to be powerful for God on a public stage but dishonor him in private. There should not be one area of our life that has not been fully surrendered to Christ.
Third, Paul says that our whole spirit, soul, and body ought to be sound and blameless. Here he was alluding to the Greek idea that people consist of three parts. His point is that every aspect of our life ought to be sound and blameless. We won’t be perfect, but we ought to manage every area of our life in a God-honoring way. It is not legitimate to say, “I have always struggled in this area of my life.” God intends for us to have victory in every area of life. No excuse is acceptable.
Living in such a manner will take determination and absolute surrender to Christ’s lordship in our life. But Paul reminds us that Christ is returning, and we will desperately want to be blameless when he does.
Finally, Paul offers a word of encouragement. He who calls us is faithful, and he will accomplish his purposes in our life. God never sets us up to fail. Whatever he calls us to do, he will also provide the resources and guidance we need to succeed. Our success is dependent on what he does in our life, and we can count on him always to do what he promises.
What has God called you to do? To serve him in holiness? To bring revival to your church? To guide your company in a God-glorifying manner? To rear your children to love and serve Christ? Whatever God has called you to do, remember this: God is faithful. He won’t give up. He will remain undaunted. You cannot discourage him. He will do what he intends to accomplish.
Our day calls for many mighty men and women of God. We don’t need more Achilles who are like shooting stars, briefly flashing across the sky and then burning up and disappearing. The world desperately needs Christians who are entirely sound and sanctified in every area of their life. May these be the greatest days of your service for God.