1 Thessalonians 5:14-18
14 We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone. 15 See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people. 16 Rejoice always; 17pray without ceasing; 18 in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
I think in today’s society, this is a passage we would quickly read over and forget. This is what causes me to pause on it and reflect. We read this passage and our eyes glaze over with the thought, “yeah yeah, be a good person, blah, blah, blah.” Maybe it was just me…either way, we should pay close attention to what Paul is saying here.
In admonish the unruly, I thought it was interesting that my footnotes mentioned this refers to those who have become idle, expecting God to return immediately so they saw no point in doing anything. I think that’s a pretty sad excuse for laziness, don’t you? Yet how many of us do that? I sometimes find myself struggling with similar things, not wanting to do something because “what’s the point?” We will see the point at the end of the passage.
Encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Sounds like a different way of saying what we find in 1 Corinthians 13, “the love chapter” of the bible. That’s because God calls us to love everyone unconditionally. We aren’t to take advantage of the fainthearted, rushing past them to take their place in line. We aren’t to trample the weak, embracing “survival of the fittest” in its worldly sense. We are to show patience with everyone, regardless of how we feel. This is true selflessness and love. Love is selfless, that which Christ exemplified for us throughout his ministry, ending in the ultimate sacrifice.
Verse 15 cuts us deep as a society, where revenge is as prominent as the air. We thrive on “justice” and people “getting what they deserve” yet we realize that God’s grace prevents us from getting what we deserve: spiritual disparity and death. Because of this, we should rejoice always since we have been saved from our spiritual desperation by His grace.
Verse 17 is interesting, in that my footnotes indicate the “without ceasing” is the same term used for an uncontrollable coughing or hacking. You know those times when you start coughing and because you are coughing you cannot stop? This is the type of prayer Paul urges us to embrace. Prayer that causes you to pray more: I have yet to experience this myself, but as unpleasant as a hacking cough is, I’m sure it is quite the opposite.
I believe that giving thanks for everything is similar to rejoice always but I suppose the difference here is that we are to be thankful for everything, the good and the bad, since it brings us into a deeper relationship with God, as we’ve seen in the book of James and elsewhere. This all being God’s will is the point. If we truly claim to love and worship Him, then we are to strive to align our will with God’s.
How do we fulfill God’s will for us?