#MeditationMonday – Out of the abundance of a man’s heart, his mouth speaks.
Welcome, dearly beloved. I pray the mercies of God be with you throughout this week. I hope to encourage and build you up in the Lord. I pray you gain a deeper understanding of these verses. As you grow in knowledge and understanding, may you be empowered to share your convictions with others.
We discussed in a separate blog post, the first 4 things God wants us to do in 2018 from our #MeditationMonday verse: I Thessalonians 5: 12 – 22. In this post, we’ll look at the next 4 instructions (in bold). Once again, they are:
- 1 Thessalonians 5:12 – To Respect our leaders
- 1 Thessalonians 5:13 – To Live in peace with each other
- 1 Thessalonians 5:13 – To Admonish the idle
- 1 Thessalonians 5:14 – To Encourage the fainthearted
- 1 Thessalonians 5:14 – To Help the weak, be patient with them
- 1 Thessalonians 5:15 – To Repay evil with good
- 1 Thessalonians 5:16 – To Rejoice
- I Thessalonians 5:17 – To Pray
- I Thessalonians 5:18 – To Give Thanks
- I Thessalonians 5:19 – To Quench Not (or grieve not) the Holy Spirit
- I Thessalonians 5:20-21 – To Despise not prophecy/prophesying, test everything
- I Thessalonians 5:21-22 – To Hold fast to good, abstain from evil
As always, let’s jump in!
5. Help the weak, be patient with them all.
Here also, MHC reads: We must bear and forbear. We must be long-suffering, and keep down anger, and this to all men. As Christians following the mandate of our Lord Jesus, it is important that we do not fail to be considerate towards the weak amongst us. Did you know Ezekiel 16:49 lists failing to help the weak as one of the sins of Sodom?!
Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had arrogance, abundant food and careless ease, but she did not help the poor and needy.
The weak amongst us include not only the poor and people having little physical strength or energy due to sickness/disease. They also include:
♦ Believers under serious financial pressure (such as those facing temptation regarding money at their workplace or elsewhere).
♦Believers under serious emotional pressure (such as those struggling with various mental diseases).
♦Believers struggling with developing godly character
or as some say, “struggling with sin”, which I think is inaccurate but that’s banter for another day. Such people are often are lacking the faith required to hold fast to biblical principles needed to live godly lives. For example, those struggling with drug or sexual addictions.
It is imperative for us to be patient with such people just as Jesus was. He cared for, delivered and restored them from their weaknesses. We shouldn’t complain that they’re being slow to repent or condemn them when they make more mistakes.
Instead, we ought to be slow to anger (James 1:19–20) and remember that just as Jesus helped (and still helps) us in our weakness, we ought to extend the same mercy to those who now face the same situation we once were. Now that we are strong, we have an obligation towards the weak.
If instead we are puffed up and pretend we have never been weak and someone helped us out, we are no different from the Priest and Levite in the story of the Good Samaritan, who mindlessly passed by the weak man on the road and hurried off selfishly to “more important matters”. See also Romans 15:1-33, Acts 20:35.
6. Repay Evil With Good.
The full instruction under this verse reads: see that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. MHC notes: No matter what man does to us, we must do good to others.
When we respond to evil with joy, it confounds the kingdom of darkness but on the other hand, when we harbour a mindset of malice and revenge, we seek to inflict upon others the same treatment we experienced when we were hurt and this creates a dangerous vicious cycle of bitterness and resentment.
Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.
1 Peter 3:9-12, [Emphasis on v.9]
As the popular saying goes: Hurt people, hurt people.…so, don’t be a “hurt person”. So choose not to inflict your scars on others, instead be like Jesus who used His scars to restore hope and faith to those who were discouraged and downcast (John 20:24-29).
7. Rejoice Always.
Is it even possible to rejoice always when there will be times we are fainthearted and weak? Can the weak and fainthearted rejoice? Yes! But can they do it always? Hmmm, that’s tricky….or not.
To rejoice means: to show great joy or delight.
People faced with circumstances that have made them weak or fainthearted find it hard to show great joy in those particular moments. Now, this instruction is by no means asking us to delight in terrible circumstances (unless it’s persecution for the sake of the gospel, see Matthew 5:11–12 and 1 Peter 4:12–16) but to rejoice i.e. to show great joy or delight in God and His promises, which restore life and bring hope TO our circumstances.
This instruction in a simpler translation [ERV] actually reads: Always be full of joy. This is significant because we may not always be happy, but we can always be joyful. Why?
Happiness is event-driven or circumstance based; Joy is gladness regardless of event or circumstance.
Therefore, the will of God is that we are joyful in Him and His promises, such as the promise of salvation:
But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. Then my soul will rejoice in the Lord, exulting in his salvation.
– Psalm 13:5 & Psalm 35:9 [ESV]
Other verses which speak of things we can rejoice in include:
[Psalm 31:7] – I will be glad and rejoice in Your mercy and steadfast love because You have seen my affliction, You have taken note of my life’s distresses [AMP]
[Psalm 19:8] – The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. [NASB]
[Romans 5:2-3] – Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, [ESV]
[Romans 5:11] – More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. [ESV]
This command to rejoice always spills over to the next two instructions (pray without ceasing and give thanks in all circumstances) because of Philippians 4:4-6 which teaches us HOW to rejoice in the Lord: through prayer and supplication with thanksgiving!
8. Pray Without Ceasing.
The command to pray without ceasing is one part of a two-step guide on how to always be full of joy! Ephesians 6:18a contains a similar instruction to “pray at all times”. In the Greek, this translates to “pray without intermission” i.e. without allowing prayerless gaps to intervene between the times of prayer [MHC].
When we pray without ceasing it means that we maintain a constant communion with God, we involve Him in everything that we engage in, this way we are never away from His presence, and “in the presence of God, there is the fullness of joy.” Therefore, in order to “rejoice always,” we must “pray without ceasing”.
Do you realise that we would rejoice more if we prayed more?
Prayer doesn’t only involve asking things from God, it just means speaking to Him and communicating with Him. Prayer is not a one-way call but a two-way conversation. God speaks back to us when we pray to Him. If your entire prayer life has consisted only of you talking to God but never Him speaking to you, you are missing out on the fullness of what it means to pray!
We often only feel like we’ve prayed when it involves warfare, casting out demons or deliverance but prayer doesn’t always have to be this way. When it comes to talking, you can have gentle conversations just as you can have violent conversations. ALL is prayer. Sometimes the most meaningful conversations we can have with our heavenly father simply involve us lying at His feet like Mary and listening to what’s on His heart.
God longs for us to seek His face not just His hand. He wants to us to seek Him for WHO HE IS not just WHAT HE CAN DO. For a long time, the crowds followed Jesus because of the miracles He would perform and the free food they would receive, but His disciples remained with Him because they understood His identity as the Messiah.
Real prayer begins when we long for God not out of a desire to get something from Him but just because we desperately want more of Him.
A truly prayerful life is a life of constant joy. True joy is more than a feeling, it is a state of mind. You can feel pain and yet be joyful. Like a woman in childbirth, who rejoices at the sight of her child despite the pain she might be in. Like Jesus at the tomb of Lazarus who in the same time-space wept over Lazarus, yet thanked His father for hearing Him.
Stay prayerful, stay joyful. You can pray in the midst of a multitude just as well as you can pray all alone. Simply connect, for God is always listening. All it takes to begin is a simple statement that calls out to Him in Jesus name: “Dear Lord”, “Heavenly Father”, “Abba”, “Holy Spirit” and so on and so forth.
Gently, call out to God in the way/by the name you know Him. Never stop praying and watch your intimacy and relationship with God be transformed in ways far beyond what you can ever imagine!
Next week, we’ll look at how giving thanks in all circumstances, plays a part in rejoicing always. We’ll also discuss what it means to quench the spirit, and why it is important to be discerning about prophecies! In the meantime, I leave you with this prayer:
Dear Lord, thank you for revealing your will to me for the new year. Please empower me to live up to this calling as it makes me more conformed to the image of Christ. As I obey your instructions, may I also receive grace to accept correction and rebuke from others on these matters. In Jesus name, I ask these things, Amen!