What are the things that should remain always? Love. Patience. Generosity. Kindness. Chocolate.
The Scriptures are full of things that should remain and rule the day. When Jesus left, he gave us marching orders to go and share the gospel and baptize in his name. Then he reminded us that he would be with us always.
Life can be devoid of “always.” Relationships, jobs, good health, promises, and your home zip code will all change and fall away in an average lifetime, but thankfully, the spiritual things remain even in the vacuum of our expectations and experiences.
Paul had some things to say about the ‘alwaysness’ of things. He gave the church at Thessolonica marching orders that announced a benediction of instructions for the rest of time.
Live in peace.
Warn the disorderly.
Comfort the discouraged.
You can read Paul’s manifesto in the verses of this passage. These were the things that were important to him:
1 Thessalonians 5 (Common English Bible)
12 Brothers and sisters, we ask you to respect those who are working with you, leading you, and instructing you. 13 Think of them highly with love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. 14 Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are disorderly. Comfort the discouraged. Help the weak. Be patient with everyone. 15 Make sure no one repays a wrong with a wrong, but always pursue the good for each other and everyone else.
These are timeless words for the way we live today. If politicians, administrations, senators, governors, media moguls, CEOs etc. were to live by these rules, the ridiculous click-bait-driven vitriol that consumes us would cease and we would actually have a chance to live in peace with one another.
Paul calls us to help the weak and be patient with one another. What does that say to you today? Where can you deliver a word of comfort to someone who needs it? Are you becoming frustrated with a situation that requires an additional measure of patience? I lost a fight with a coffee maker way too early this morning while a two-year-old was loudly calling my name. Lord, give me patience and give it to me RIGHT NOW!
16 Rejoice always.
Of all the things Paul says, this may be the most challenging, especially if you find yourself suddenly submerged in betrayal, abuse, or illness.
I have a friend who took a hard fall that rendered him hospitalized for sixty days. For sixty days his amazing wife posted updates while we all responded with encouraging words and prayers. For sixty days, even in the darkest times, even on the day when their daughter had to be walked down the aisle by her brothers because he was in a coma, this faithful wife posted pictures of the celebration with a sense of rejoicing that surpassed all reason. When he finally was well enough to communicate with the world again, we all rejoiced.
I know she was scared. I know she was exhausted. I know she was frustrated. But through her faithful and positive countenance, rejoicing had already carried the day.
17 Pray continually. 18 Give thanks in every situation because this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 19 Don’t suppress the Spirit. 20 Don’t brush off Spirit-inspired messages,21 but examine everything carefully and hang on to what is good.22 Avoid every kind of evil. 23 Now, may the God of peace himself cause you to be completely dedicated to him; and may your spirit, soul, and body be kept intact and blameless at our Lord Jesus Christ’s coming. 24 The one who is calling you is faithful and will do this.
This last bit is perhaps the key to it all. PRAY CONTINUALLY. I believe it is all connected: praying continually>respect>giving and receiving comfort>finding patience>rejoicing in all things>giving thanks. Prayer is the key.
When we pray continually in all things, we open ourselves to the unlimited power of God and the unfathomable Spirit-inspired messages that we receive when we sit in God’s presence. There, we find strength to resist evil and grasp peace.
Do you lack peace? Do you need guidance? Are you frustrated as all get-out? There is something you can do … pray continually. And when you are finished, pray some more.