FINAL Instruction from 1 Thess. 5:12-28
The message today is a simple one. No controversies. Not a lot of deep theology. There are no metaphors, idiomatic expressions, hidden meanings, or parables. Paul is giving his last instructions—which really is not his last as he writes one more letter to these people. But, for today, let’s look and see how this passage works itself out into our day-to-day lives.
First, it will affect you. Paul is asking and urging us to do something that he feels is important to the life of the Church. He is very clear about what to do.
Secondly, this passage will most likely stay with you for a long while. Not because of my superior preaching. It is going to stay around in your hearts because this is God’s Words! His Word will not return empty. Many of us today are here today because the Word of God started to work in our lives a long time ago. We now, when we look back, we can see how His Word had entered our very hearts and caused us to be alive in Jesus. His Word alive in us!
Paul asked these Believers to respect and honor those people who are teaching them—who are over them in the Church. These people work hard on your behalf. Because of that, they are targets of many attacks from the Evil One. Whoever they are, those people who have taught you, lead a Bible Study, prayed over you, these people are to get your respect. Those who were given this responsibility from the Lord have guided and encouraged you to stay obedient to the Lord. So, overwhelm them with your appreciation and with your love. Have fun doing it! As in giving with a cheerful heart—show your love without holding back.
Here comes a hard one for some: Live at peace with each other. Some feel it is their role in life to be difficult. To be nasty and mean to people. To be brutality honest no matter who gets hurt. Can’t live at peace with that kind of mindset. To live at peace with others does not mean being a weak person or a ‘YES man!’ It takes courage and power from the Lord. We all know of people who are hard to be with. Some here are married to them! Sometimes we get a feeling of wanting to hurt someone. We feel we must because something happened and our feelings were hurt. Paul says to us all: never you mind. Get that right. Be at peace with each other means that you too are at peace with God and yourself. How is that possible? Forgive them. Then you will be forgiven!
Paul moves from asking to urging his friends. A deeper, more involved action. This means so much to Paul! We are to warn the freeloaders or idle people to get moving! We all are part of the Body and we all need to be functioning in a healthy manner. Those who are idle take time away from our work in the Gospel. An idle person becomes the devil’s work area. Busy hands are good: idle hands produce discord.
We are to gently encourage those who are struggling to keep up. To reach out to those who are wiped out-exhausted and get them upright once again. It might be to hire a person—if it is your place to do that—in order to get them productive once again. Everyone needs encouragement! How did it go last week? Did you encourage someone? No? Why not? Did you forget? Did you think it was silly? Paul urges us to encourage people we are around. It is good practice to do so.
We need to be patient with people. (Now Paul is meddling!) Just let me alone, we might say. But Paul, and the Holy Spirit of God wants to bless us with an active Christian Faith. A Faith that helps encourage people to enjoy His Grace and Love.
We are not to pay back evil for evil. We are not to get even. Give that notion up! We are to be careful not to get on people’s nerves. It is easy to snap at each other. We see cats do that. We need to always look for the best in each other and it is our role in the Body of Christ to actively do our best to bring that out in others. Try to be kind. Try and keep at it!
Next comes Paul’s list. Short sentences yet powerful and life changing. Be joyful. Be cheerful-no matter what. Count it all joy—even when you enter hard times and temptation. Let’s be real, OK? Is this possible? It is when our hearts are in the right place. If we are looking into our own hearts for satisfaction, no, it will not be there. If we are looking at following the Heart of Christ, yes, it is possible—even to the point of becoming a different person once this sets into our reality!
We are to pray at all times. Even now, I would appreciate your prayers as our translator and I deliver this message. Asking God to help us understand the Word of God, to be able to speak the Word of God in an understandable manner. That people’s hearts would be touched and we, ourselves, would be different as the Word of God takes root in us.
We are to thank God at all times. Give thanks for things that come your way. The waitress gives you a glass of water: thank her. Your wife fixed dinner; thank her and then help clean up after dinner.
This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ to behave and live!
Don’t put out the Spirit’s fire. When I was a teenager, I had given my life to Jesus. While working at a church near my home, an older man—who was known as a fine Christian man—said to me, “You are excited now but wait a few years, you’ll come to understand. Your joy will leave ‘cause life is hard and your life is not all fun and games. When you get older, you’ll see.” What, to be as crusty as you? No thank you, very much! I like being joyful in Jesus ‘cause He has given me life! What else am I to do?
That old man tried to put out the Spirit’s fire in me. I am glad to say he did not succeed, but how many others are discouraged when older Believers dampen their zeal for the Lord. Careful.
We are to listen to the people who speak the Words of God but we are not to be gullible. Check what they say with the Word of God. Test the spirit, as it were. He says this but the Word say something else. Reject what that man says because of the Word of God is true. Hold on to the good and throw out anything tainted with evil. Anything, no matter the cost.
Paul asks us to pray for them. Pray for the door of opportunity to stay open. That hearts would be changed because of the Power of God in their lives. Pray all the time. Under any circumstances, keep your heart in the right place so that you can pray. Keeping yourself pure from the evil around you is your job. Say in turn with what the Lord is showing you. Ask Him for continued guidance. Pray for others direction as well.
You can keep those prayers going to the Father’s heart by staying close to Him. By keeping yourself pure. Throw out anything in your life that is tainted with evil. Anything.
Now comes the end of his instruction, but wait, there is more still. He almost ends this letter but first he gets really caught up in seeing just Who his Father is. He asked God Himself, who makes everything holy and full, to make us holy and full. Paul knows that his Father is completely dependable. If God said it, God will do it! That is a good reminder.
Look at what Paul prays for these people:
May God Himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Then, Paul gets personal. Not a problem, but we are to be genuine with one another. Embrace each other with a Holy embrace. Give a holy kiss. Not something sexual. Not with lust in the heart…but part of the purity we have in Christ.
Then, Paul ends his letter once again as I will end. God’s Grace be with you who love the Lord Jesus Christ.