We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you,13 and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves.14 And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle,t encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.15 See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.16 Rejoice always,17 pray without ceasing,18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:12-18)
Paul wraps up his first letter to the Thessalonians with these words which are so packed full of application and challenge for us.
First, we are to respect the leaders in the church and esteem them “very highly in love” because of their work. As a pastor it is so encouraging to me in my calling when people do this. I cannot express how empowering such love is. It is empowering at least in part because I know how against-the-grain that kind of treatment is. Our natural tendency is to be critical of all leadership and anyone in authority over us.
Second, all of us to encourage each other in ways appropriate to the need. To the idle we are to admonish; to the fainthearted we are to encourage, to the weak we are to help. To each we are to be patient. I know this has broad application but I am especially aware of my need as a father to exhibit this kind of support to my kids. What a great reminder and a challenge! How much we need to rely on the Lord to help!
Third, we are to “see that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.” Everyday I watch kids repay evil to the one who hurts them, whether on purpose or accident. This too is our natural tendency. We want justice and we are afraid that if we don’t dish it out, it won’t happen. So to restrain from payback we must trust the Lord. He is judge and nothing will escape his judgment! In light of that, we are to seek to do good to everyone – even when they are hurting us.
Lastly, we are to rejoice always and give thanks in every circumstance. Boy this is a hard one when we think about all the difficult things that we go through. What does it take to rejoice and give thanks in every situation? Again, it takes faith in God, that he knows what he’s doing by allowing trials in our lives. In fact, we must be convinced that he’s working trials into our lives for our own good! So the question is again, do you trust him?
Which of these instructions challenges you the most? Why?
Give thanks to the Lord for such challenging words and ask for His Spirit to help you trust Him.
McCheyne’s Bible Reading Plan: 1 Kings 22, 1 Thes 5, Da 4, Ps 45