At the start of this final chapter, Paul reminds the Thessalonians that Jesus will return at some unknown time in the future. His point, following on from the beginning of chapter 4, is to make us think about how we are living now, knowing Jesus could return at any time. Paul reminds us that we are now carriers of God’s light where once we lived in darkness. He reminds us that we are saved and secure, but that we need to live in the good of that. Paul highlights five things in the rest of the passage that we need to live out as we wait for Christ’s return.
Encourage each other (v.11)
Life can be really tough sometimes. But we have a choice about what we do, and it is powerful. We have the choice as to whether we are going to build others up and encourage them with our words and actions or whether we are going to allow situations to get on top of us, and forget about the feelings of the people around us.
In Proverbs 18:21 it says ‘The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.’
Recently, I have had a very difficult situation at work and it has been really hard. But in coping all day at work, I was then coming home and my poor husband was getting the brunt of my stress as I would explode over really tiny things and not use kind, encouraging words towards him. God really challenged me on this – making sure that I watch what I am saying and how I am acting towards others and not allowing my feelings to impact how I relate to them. Whether I am having a good or bad day, I still need to be encouraging and build up others. The difficult situations I face are never an excuse for not showing love and encouragement to others.
It is so easy to moan and complain about things that we are not happy with, whether it is at work, in church or in the country. But we are called to honour our leaders – that means our bosses at work, the elders in church and those in government. We are much quicker to moan, complain and criticise people and decisions (myself included!) than to thank and praise people for what they have done. This is the wrong way round!
Be Thankful (v.16-18)
There is always something to be thankful for in every situation, we just need to look for it. God is always working, even in the most difficult situations. That means there is always something to thank Him for. As we thank Him we receive more and more of His joy. As we rejoice in what He has done, we find more things to be thankful for! What a great cycle. I keep a notebook by my bed and write down things that I am thankful for from the day – it always surprises me how much I have to write, even on a tough day!
Kees spoke about this a few weeks ago and I really encourage you to listen to it. It is important that we listen to the Spirit and that we weigh up prophecies, both those we are given for others and those we receive ourselves. Test them out with Scripture, ask someone else about them, but don’t ignore them! God loves to speak to us both directly and through others.
Live Holy (v.23-24)
All these things are possible for us to do because of God who works in and through us. We can’t do it in our own strength, but thankfully we don’t have to! ‘The one who calls you is faithful and He will do it.’
Praise God that He has saved us and forgiven us so that we are blameless in His sight. He helps us. If you are struggling with any of these areas, bring it to God today.