WE ARE THE CHURCH

Opening Prayer

As I come to your Word today, Lord God, please accept my thanksgiving, praise, and worship. Speak to my heart; help me to live for you.

Read 1 THESSALONIANS 5:12–28

Final Instructions

12 Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you. 13 Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. 14 And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. 15 Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else.

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not treat prophecies with contempt 21 but test them all; hold on to what is good, 22 reject every kind of evil.

23 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. 24 The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.

25 Brothers and sisters, pray for us. 26 Greet all God’s people with a holy kiss. 27 I charge you before the Lord to have this letter read to all the brothers and sisters.

28 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

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Meditate

‘O most merciful redeemer, friend and brother, may I know thee more clearly, love thee more dearly, and follow thee more nearly, day by day.’1

Think Further

A fellow church leader recently complained to me that his congregation seemed to expect him to drive everything they did as a church. They were (usually) happy to turn up Sunday by Sunday, but didn’t see it as their responsibility to do much else.

Paul paints a very different picture of what church is like. Yes, the church leadership is described as ‘those who work hard among you’ (v. 12)—but most of his instructions here are addressed to ‘all the brothers and sisters’ in the church, to whom he expressly requires his letter to be read (v. 27). It is these normal Christians who are urged to maintain pastoral responsibility for one another, warning those who are ‘idle and disruptive,’ encouraging the disheartened, helping the weak, and striving always ‘to do what is good’ for those in and outside the church (vv. 14, 15). Do you, or does your church, need to rediscover this commission? We are, above all, a community of people in Christ, building up our common life in mutual peace (vv. 13, 14). We need leadership and we are to recognize those who are leaders among us and lovingly respect them (vv. 12, 13), but this does not exempt us from our responsibilities as a body. It seems likely that this was core teaching the apostles gave to new faith communities, as it is paralleled elsewhere.2

Maybe this ideal feels unattainable for you at the moment? Be encouraged: our collective growth in Christian maturity is not solely our responsibility—above all, it is God’s! Paul prays that God himself will ‘sanctify you through and through’ (v. 23—the Greek ‘you’ is plural). Having called us, God enables us to grow, right up to the end (vv. 23, 24). And ‘he will do it’ (v. 24)!

Apply

‘… encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing’ (v. 11).

Closing prayer

As I respond to your Word in prayer, Father, I thank you for the family of believers in my church and for the privilege that is mine to lift them up before you. Help us to love one another and grow together in our walk with you.

Last Updated on February 12, 2024 by kingstar

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