1 Thessalonians is one of those books that I too often overlook. I’m not sure why but when I think of the biggies of the N.T. and the books that I often return to over and over again, Thessalonians isn’t one of those books, but it is just as important as the others. Today was one of those days where I found myself camping out in Thessalonians. I was researching verses on prayer and I came across this passage. I have heard it and read it a million times. It is found towards the end Chapter 5 where it seems as those Paul starts to panic because he knows his letter is coming to a close but there is still so much more to say. Let’s pick it up in verse 11.
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else. Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.”So in writing to the church of Thessalonians, Paul gives us a checklist…
• Build up on another (vs. 11)
• Respect Your Leaders and appreciate them (vs. 12-13)
• Live in Peace (vs. 13)
• Warn those who are idle (vs.14)
• Encourage those who are shy (vs. 14)
• Help the weak (vs. 14)
• Be patient (vs. 14)
• Resist revenge (vs. 15)
• Rejoice always (Vs. 16)
• Pray without ceasing (vs. 17)
• Give thanks (vs. 18)
As I look through that list, there are several areas that I tend to drop the ball, yet I’m called to do them all. In this time of uncertainty and great anticipation, my prayer is that we will look for ways to build up those around us. I wrote myself a little note using Paul’s letter as an example…
“Andrew, why don’t you look for ways to build up those around you? Respect and value those who God has placed in leadership over you, even when you disagree with their decisions or directions. At work or at home, ask yourself, “what can I do to make this a peaceful place?”
Who around you is withdrawn, weak and in need of encouragement? Look for ways to encourage them, and if it happens to be the same needy people over and over again, be patient with them! You know those things, you hang on to because you were offended or felt mistreated, quit looking for ways to get back or get even! Andrew, look at the positives in all situations and NEVER, NEVER, NEVER STOP PRAYING! Be thankful and remember that Christ Jesus lives in you."
That last phrase in verse 17 I believe is the most forgotten phrase of the Christian life. Christ Jesus lives IN you. Romans 8:11 says, “And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.
There’s a song we sing that has these words…”The same power that conquered the grave lives in me. Your love that rescued the earth lives in me” May we be reminded to trust in His strength and His power in all that we do.
Grace and Peace,