“And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.”
(1 Thessalonians 5:14-22 ESV)
When we first heard the Great Commission we heard Christ commanding us to evangelize to the unsaved. There is no doubt that we have received this charge to go out into the mission field and preach the Gospel and reclaim the lost for Christ. Yet, our zeal for this one aspect of God’s good work for us may eclipse the other aspects of our charge. Indeed, the fields we are called to work are not just the hearts of the lost, but of every brother and sister, and, of course, our very own, laboring to conform ourselves to the image of Christ until we are called home to be with the Lord.
Looking at the first two verses of our opening passage, we can see that Paul’s exhortation is for us to be invested in the lives of our fellow believers with the intent of being in close fellowship with one another. In our pursuit of being united in spirit, we will come across one another’s shortcomings as we are all continuing to put to death our old selves. Paul says that when we face such adversity of character, we are to be single minded in our effort to remind our fellow believer of their calling with love and patience. We need to remember that they have been given the same mission from God. Our Lord did not give us isolated fields to tend alone, but has placed us together in His infinite wisdom so that we may come to one another’s aid in our times of weakness.
In John 13:34, 35, Christ tells us that everyone will know we are His disciples by our love for our brothers and sisters. This Christ-like love should have us willing to lay down our lives for one another should we be called to, just as Christ did by dying for our sins on the cross. Blessed by God, we live in a place of peace and plenty, making the prospect of dramatic displays of love and sacrifice rare which is perfect since this post is about living the Great Commission in the seemingly mundane of our everyday. Our demonstrations of Christ-like love are not reserved for single moments of great visible sacrifice, but this love should be pervading every action we make. On the surface we may find ourselves and others at peace, unaware of the spiritual undertow that is carrying us away from glorifying God. Remember that within each of us are skirmishes made by the forces of evil attempting to hinder us from doing God’s work. At times we are besieged by our own sinfulness, and it is then when a refreshing word from a fellow heir in Christ can steel our resolve to rally against sin. These moments are quiet, and require wisdom to discern and faithfulness to see that God is glorified through our resisting of sin.
We have to be ready, vigilant as we watch over our own hearts so we are prepared to reinforce our fellow believers in their time of need. How this happens is through the work of the Holy Spirit giving us the strength to work on our own hearts. Who we are when we are alone correlates with our ability to execute God’s will when we are with company. As we go further into the opening passage Paul exhorts us to have the proper attitude and practices that prepare us for adversity. God is glorified when we have an attitude of joy and thanksgiving regardless of circumstances. It shows a maturity of faith in and understanding of God’s provision that He works all towards His glory and for our good. We need to be in prayer, not ineffectual and repetitious prayer that is measured in frequency and volume, but earnest communion with God that is an expression of fellowship with our Father. An attitude of joy and thanksgiving should see its expression through prayer, coming to the Father and honoring Him by acknowledging His generous provision. To abide in the Lord in these ways defends our hearts against the weeds of sin taking hold as we find satisfaction in Him.
We glorify God in victory when we resist sin. It also keeps us from becoming impotent in times of need. Paul tells us to never quench the Spirit, which is to never put out our fervor for what is good with sinfulness, loving God’s Word and studying it for ourselves. The Bible is God’s divine revelation to man of His character. Having a fuller understanding of the Father is critical in fighting temptation. By studying Scripture, we can attain deeper knowledge of our Father and His will for us that equip us for the mission we have here today. Will we remember that we can go to our Father in prayer and that he will comfort us instead of grumbling about our plight? If we know He will comfort us, will we then share this comfort with a fellow believer when they need to be comforted? Whatever we study in Scripture will profit us, equipping us with words to continue laboring on the heart.