Text – 1 Thessalonians 5:12-22:
12 But we appeal to you, brothers and sisters, to respect those who labor among you, and have charge of you in the Lord and admonish you; 13 esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. 14 And we urge you, beloved, to admonish the idlers, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with all of them.
15 See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all. 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise the words of prophets, 21 but test everything; hold fast to what is good; 22 abstain from every form of evil.
This passage constitutes the final thoughts from Paul to the church at Thessalonica. We know that the church had been beset with controversy over the Second Coming, leading to some of the Christians quitting their jobs in anticipation of an imminent return of Jesus. Paul wraps up this letter with some final advice to the church which is appropriate for Advent. Paul’s advice?
1. Respect your church leaders.
2. Be at peace with each other.
3. Admonish those who are idle and unproductive.
4. Encourage those who need it, the fearful and the weak.
5. Seek ways to do good for others. Never be vengeful.
6. And this. “Rejoice always and pray without ceasing.”
7. Be thankful in every situation and do not quench the Spirit.
8. Don’t be gullible; test everything.
9. Abstain from every form of evil.
This is not a Pollyanna-ish form of faith. To follow Paul’s advice requires depth of character and commitment to follow God’s instruction. Including REJOICING. A pessimist will ignore this command and go toward complaint rather than joy.
Rejoice, Ye Pure in Heart
By E. H. Plumtre
Rejoice, O pure in heart,
rejoice, give thanks, and sing;
your festal banner wave on high,
the cross of Christ your King.
Rejoice, rejoice, rejoice, give thanks, and sing!
Bright youth and snow-crowned age,
both men and women, raise
on high your free, exulting song,
declare God’s wondrous praise. [Refrain]
Still lift your standard high,
still chanting as you go,
from youth to age, by night and day,
in gladness and in woe. [Refrain]
At last the march shall end;
the wearied ones shall rest,
the pilgrims reach their home at last,
Jerusalem the blest. [Refrain]
Praise God, who reigns on high,
the Lord whom we adore:
the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
one God forevermore. [Refrain]
Father in heaven, we await your coming in joy. In the quiet of Advent we wait an end to Covid. We wait an end to war, political debate, loss of integrity, and mistreatment of the poor and weak. As we like to pray, “Thy kingdom come, and thy will be done on earth.” In joy we pray this through Jesus our source of joy. Amen.
Talk with someone or ones in your family about the reasons you have to be joyful in this time of Advent and Christmas. Make a short list of things that threaten to steal your joy and what you can do to prevent that.