“We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone. 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. Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil.”
– 1 Thess 5.14-22
Yesterday I wrote on the necessity of devotion to prayer, and I quoted one verse from 1 Thessalonians 5, “Pray without ceasing”. I love this entire chapter as it is so practical and full of exhortations that are simple. Well, they are simple in their instructive nature; they are extremely difficult to live out regularly and establish deeply in our hearts. In these few verses there are fifteen commands:
- Admonish the unruly
- Encourage the fainthearted
- Help the weak
- Be patient with everyone
- Do not return evil for evil
- OR LET ANYONE ELSE return evil for evil
- Seek everyone’s best interest
- Rejoice always
- Pray without ceasing
- Give thanks in everything
- Do not quench the Spirit
- Do not despise prophetic utterances
- Examine everything carefully
- Hold fast to everything good
- Abstain from everything evil
Being active, in the sense that I implied yesterday, is to engage in active ministry. There are admonitions, these fifteen for example, which we are to be purposeful about all of the time. We do not have to pray about whether or not to engage in sin. We do not have to seek God’s direction or desire for us to rejoice in all of our circumstances. We should be intentional and single-minded about returning good for evil and looking out for one another’s best interests.
It is so easy to fall off the wagon in either direction. We can get so distracted by ministry that we forget prayer and we forget these basic precepts for living in community with one another. We can also get so paralyzed by fear or needing to hear clear directions from the Lord that we sit and wait and do nothing. But God has given basic instructions for everyone, everyday – such as this list of tenets. God will direct our steps, and He will reveal specific callings and ministries for our lives. But in the day-to-day, in the outliving of your ministry, and in your mundane life, these things are the basics that all Christians should do. Through love for God.
Let’s not wait for special revelation or a special calling to obey. God has revealed His intention for how we should live with one another, as we see an example above. He has revealed His will for the world, that we would make disciples of all nations (Matt 28). Once we get busy about doing what He has already told us to do, with prayer at the foundation, He will reveal and lead us into more service. For “he who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much” (Luke 16.10).