I was not feeling well yesterday, so I decided to put off my post for 1 Thessalonians 5. I try not to blog on Saturdays so that way I can spend time with my family. However, since my family is all in bed and I am wide awake, I thought I would write!
As we finish up 1 Thessalonians, I find myself drawn to a few verses in the middle of this chapter.
“Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are lazy. Encourage those who are timid. Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone. See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to all people. Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” (5:14-18, NLT).
This is a great call and reminder for how we are supposed to live our lives, but it is also a great reminder of how not to live. Paul’s first point is to not be lazy or timid. Being lazy keeps us from doing God’s work. Paul just reminded the church, “and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you,” (1 Thessalonians 4:11, NASB). Laziness is the exact opposite to what Paul believes we should be. We should be constantly working for the Will of God.
But being timid is a hindrance to God’s work as well. Even if we aren’t lazy, timidity can cause us to not do as we are supposed to. Paul writes to Timothy, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:7, NLT). If God has given us power, than what must timidity be? I believe that if it does not come from God, it must be from Satan. Therefore, if we are timid, that is the work of the Enemy attempting to stop the Will of God. As God’s children, it is our duty to always be after the same things as God, and so we must not be timid.
Caring for those who are weaker and being patient with everyone is probably the hardest thing for me to do on this list. This is necessary because we cannot bring up strong believers if we do not care for the weaker ones and be patient with them. Everyone is weak when we first come to faith. Think of any well known believer and think of the faith they have. When they first came to faith, they knew nothing except for the love of God. Someone spoke into their lives and brought them up to where they are now. It is important for stronger Christians to come along side weaker Christians and help time rise to a place even greater than their mentor.
I’m going to skip over the next point for a moment and move on praying. Prayer is an important part of the Christian lifestyle. It is our time to speak to God, and hear back from Him. I’ve been hearing a quote a lot here lately that I think needs to be shared. “Prayer is not monologue, but dialogue. God’s voice in response to mine is the most essential part.” (Andrew Murray). I think too many Christians view prayer as our time to give God our list of demands, what we think He should be doing in the world or for us. While it is important to tell God what is on your heart in prayer, it is even more important to have a conversation with Him and let Him guide you.
The last point is that we should alway be joyously doing good, and be thankful no matter the situation. I can admit, sometimes I don’t want to do what is good, sometimes it’s just to hard. And sometimes I’m not happy about doing the right thing, but I should be. The right thing is always good and pleasing to God. When we recognize this, our hearts can sing because we are pleasing God and making Him smile! Unfortunately, the world doesn’t like what makes God happy. It seeks to remove God from here and most assuredly doesn’t want His Will to be done. For this reason, doing God’s Will can place us in unfortunate circumstances. We are reminded by Paul to be grateful, despite the circumstances, because if we are doing what we are supposed to, God is still happy even if we find ourselves in jail.
The message we get from 1 Thessalonians is that God is not simply pleased by us “following the rules”. He wants us to completely follow Him, no matter what it takes. The Thessalonians were a church that never allowed itself to simply “do Church”, rather they excelled in doing the work God had for them and thus, “being Church”. What is God speaking to you? Have you not been completely His? I encourage you to spend time in prayer and seek out what He has for you. Being a Christian is a hard path, but our main goal is for Jesus to say “Well done”. We want Jesus to be proud of the work we have done, not simply tolerating. So get ready and be prepared for what God has in store for you, it will probably be hard, but I promise it is well worth it!