As a kid, do you remember your mom or dad giving you last minute instructions? Something they didn’t want you to forget. It usually wasn’t just one, but a few things shouted to you as you opened the door to leave. I can recall many times my mom saying to me, “don’t forget to say thank you”, or “be good”, when I was invited along with a friend to get ice cream on a warm summer evening.
The apostle Paul did that very same thing, writing to a church he founded in Thessalonica. In his first letter, he tells them some final instructions at the end of his letter, things he didn’t want this congregation to forget, instructions on how to treat each other and help each other. Then Paul includes the following:
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (ESV)
Rejoice. The New Living Translation reads “Always be joyful”. Always? That’s like all the time. Paul does not say Rejoice when you feel like it, or only when life is good. This is a command he is giving the church and to us.
The next command he gives is to pray without ceasing. This doesn’t mean that you have to pray continually. It means don’t give up praying, or simply “keep the line (of communication) open”. Lastly, Paul says give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ for you. All circumstances not some, or happy ones, or the ones you want to give thanks for. All.
Whew, for three short verses, there is a lot packed into this passage. If we are honest with ourselves, we tend to look over these verses, but I think it is important to take a closer look to see exactly what Paul wanted the Thessalonians, and us, to understand and put into practice. We don’t have the room here to do that so here is what I’m going to do:
Over the next three blog posts, we are going to take a look at each command– Rejoice always, pray without ceasing and give thanks in all circumstances. Hopefully, we will be able to get a better understanding so we can apply it to our lives.
Shining the Light Brighter – Here is where you can dig deeper to help you learn more and apply God’s word to your life.
- Think of the reason behind Paul writing this. What were the Thessalonians going through at this time that made these commands important for them to know?
- Which of the three commands do you struggle with the most? Spend time with God in prayer and ask Him to help you.
- Share what you have learned, leave a comment in the comment section of this blog.