1 Thessalonians 5_12-28 pt 2
1 Thess 5:12-28 Part 1 “12 Now we ask you, brothers, to give recognition to those who labor among you and lead you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to regard them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. 14 And we exhort you, brothers: warn those who are irresponsible, comfort the discouraged, help the weak, be patient with everyone. 15 See to it that no one repays evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good for one another and for all. 16 Rejoice always! 17 Pray constantly. 18 Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 19 Don’t stifle the Spirit. 20 Don’t despise prophecies, 21 but test all things. Hold on to what is good. 22 Stay away from every kind of evil. 23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely. And may your spirit, soul, and body be kept sound and blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it. 25 Brothers, pray for us also. 26 Greet all the brothers with a holy kiss. 27 I charge you by the Lord that this letter be read to all the brothers. 28 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. 1” As an outline: 12-13a: Leadership in the Church 13b-15: General Relationship 16-18: Personal 19-21: Prophecy and the Spirit 22-28: Concluding Remarks 1) Labor among you 2) Lead you in the Lord a. Same thing we see in Eph 5/6 (Wife, Husband, Children) b. Not to lord over them, but to lead as in the Lord. c. Lovingly and authoritatively teaching the Word of God 3) Admonish you Response: “Regard them very highly in love” Intro After providing guidance on church leadership, Paul exhorts the people about church life. And really this is sometimes a bit rough for people to do. We know that leaders have a tough job and duty to labor, rebuke and lead as necessary, but the people of God each has a duty themselves. And a man summarized it very well. He said, you are to love your neighbor as yourself. Those are wise words, but they also require sacrifice. It requires us to get involved in the lives of the person that is sitting to your right and to your left in a meaningful way. And is that not what you would want for yourself. In case you didn’t know this, the local church is not a place where you go to just hear the Word of God. That is definitely a big part of it in our worship to God, but it is also a place and time for believers to encourage one another. Body Paul lists out several things: 1) Warn those who are irresponsible 2) Comfort the discouraged 3) Help the weak 4) Be patient with everyone 5) Do not repay evil for evil, but rather pursue good for one another and for all!! That requires sacrifice. You got to get involved in the lives of the people. To know their struggles and to know their weaknesses. That is loving for you to point it out for their good. You are not doing it out of envy or rivalry or wickedness in your heart. But we build one another up. That is how we ought to be known. John 13:34-35 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” So the question that is to be asked is this, am I loving my neighbor? And before we even answer that question, we have to ask what does it mean to even love them! Although not all-inclusive, this is a very good starting point. This passage of Scripture can act as a guide for us in relational Christian living within and outside the body of Christ. 1) Warn those who are irresponsible Church Discipline is a very hard thing for some people. Because no one likes to be told that they are wrong. But we must repent of that pride and be willing to receive. But this exhortation is very interesting to me, because it comes from the other side. Those who are being irresponsible are to be warned. You need to warn them! Clearly, we can think of children who are living improperly. They need to be warned of the consequences of their sin. The eternal consequences. The word here is ataktos, disorderly. Correctly, it is referring to those who are idle. They are the ones who refuse to work and support themselves or their families. These lazy people are not doing a good thing. They are not finding themselves, but rather shirking their duty! This could be referring also to those described in 4:11 who were not leading quiet lives, but were disturbing others and not working. And you know it is a shame when a person has this much neglect for themselves, greater if they have a family and are doing this. They need to be corrected and warned. This is not the right behavior and conduct of a man or woman of God. And yet, how many idle hands do we find in the church? Too few have a love to go out and do the work of God. Carrying the message of the Gospel. Serving in the church. Just as the pastor ought to be laboring and working, so too are the people. Today the attitude is opposite to that first-century expectation, but the result is the same. Christ seems so long in coming, and life keeps rolling along at a predictable clip. We become idle in our Christian responsibilities. Too absorbed in the daily routine, we fail to use our gifts, time, and lives for others and the church. Idleness springs from distorted thinking, and such thinking deserves a warning: it is wrong—stop it! This past June, Monica and I went on our anniversary to Alaska and had an amazing experience of dog sledding. An Alaskan dog musher described to me the differences between the huskies in the straps of his sled. “Some of them are known as dishonest dogs,” he said. “They learn how to fake it, to pretend they are working hard by leaning against the harness without really pulling.” Maybe we should examine ourselves to see if we are “dishonest” by failing to do our share of Christ’s work.2 2) Comfort the discouraged But not all are negligent. Some are discouraged and depressed. These people may be so down that they are somewhat frozen. I do not want these people to feel more added weight. They need encouragement. They need comfort. They need a helping hand. Thinking of the Thessalonicans. The death of fellow Christians (4:13–18), persecution by non-Christians (2:14–16), attempting and sometimes failing to live according to a new ethic (4:3–8), the absence of the evangelists (2:17–20), and various trials and temptations (3:5) could have discouraged some of the believers. Whatever the difficulty, the church was to attempt to “encourage” such people. Paul used the same verb (paramytheomai) to describe the fatherly care he exhibited toward the Thessalonians (2:11–12). In this also they were to follow his example.3 Comfort them and help the weak 3) Help the weak . These were the spiritually weak in Paul’s time, and they are still found in every church. Perhaps they lack knowledge or experience; it could be that they struggle with certain sins which continually defeat them; they may lack courage or find it difficult to trust God. They are weak in the faith and need to be helped along the way. We all identify with this group of people at some time or other. We do not abandon these sort of people as if they are lost causes. No, we teach them and help them and guide them. They may be straggling, but they need help to finish the race. Gal 6:1-5 In our weakness and inability to conquer sin, we find that Christ helped us by the sacrifice of his life. Can we who have been so blessed do any less for others in their time of need? 4) Be patient with everyone Everyone should be dealt with in patience. “People work” can be frustrating at times. We are all so different. We mature at different rates, have different personalities and backgrounds, likes, dislikes, and habits. These factors can make it complex and difficult when we are called on to warn, help, instruct, or encourage others. Love is what helps us be patient with everyone. Love is patient. It does not seek its own way. Because of our selfish tendencies, we need patience from others, even as we need to be patient. Perhaps that is why God can be so patient with us. He recognizes that our mistakes, our bungling efforts, our one step forward and three steps back are valuable learning exercises in growing in grace and character.4 5) Do not repay evil for evil, but rather pursue good for one another and for all!! Only as we abide in Christ and entrust our grievances, hardships, and the wrongs we suffer to him can we live with this command. It is not natural, but it is possible. It marks a distinctly Christian approach to life. Paul detailed this approach by quoting Proverbs 25:21–22 in the Book of Romans when he called us to live in peace, to not take revenge. He told us, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink” (Rom. 12:20), then added “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:21). And so Paul told the Thessalonians to be kind to each other and to everyone else. This means everyone both inside and outside the church.5 Conclusion “Church” is more than a place to go or a service to attend on Sunday. The church—the local church, too—is the body of Christ, and each member of the body is responsible for the spiritual welfare of every other member. Thus, every kind of spiritual problem, as it crops up in the fellowship, should be answered by others who go to the rescue.6 In the end, the goal is to present to God a bride unblemished. A bride that is strong. 1) Know God and His Word. That is a true comfort and source of strength and help 2) Know your neighbor. Get involved in their lives….today!! Talk to a stranger, get to know them and keep up with them. We are not a high school lunchroom where everyone goes to their group. We are a family. The family of God. Let’s start taking care of one another.