Basic Instructions Part 1 (1 Thess 5:12-15)

Mar 21, 2023 By: David Meyer Topic: Sermon Devotional Series: 1 Thessalonians Scripture: 1 Thess. 5:12-15

Chapters 4 and 5 of 1 Thessalonians are filled with many exhortations of how Christians should live in this world. From verse 5:12 to the end of the chapter, the letter goes very fast paced with a cluster of exhortations. While it may seem out of place to cram all these imperatives (commands) into the end of the letter, Paul’s typical custom when writing churches was to include a section of general instructions for the church’s life together.  See Romans 12:3-17 as a parallel passage to our text.

In verses 12-13 of 1 Thess 5, Paul exhorts the church to have the proper respect for its leaders. The church should know them, recognize them and not take their leaders for granted. They are a gift to the church. (Eph 4:12-13)  Elders, as under-shepherds, are tasked with leading, feeding, protecting and correcting the sheep.  It is the sheep’s job to respond by loving, honoring and obeying their leaders because of the way their leaders teach and model the truth of the word.

In verse 14, we see four ongoing responsibilities which Christians in a local congregation have towards one another. These exhortations require discernment and wisdom as we interact in body life. Not only does the church have all different kinds of people going through all different kinds of things in a local community, but if we are honest with ourselves, we could be described at one point or another as idle, fainthearted or weak! Paul’s call to patience is another reminder that we need the life-giving love God produced by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 13:4, Gal 5:22).

 In verse 15, we are reminded that retaliation is not an option for Christians. It is not enough to just abstain from evil, but we are called to be proactive in doing good to others who wrong us. Easier said than done, but we have been given new life! Progress is possible.

A good under-shepherd and pastor is constantly focusing the sheep’s attention on the Great Shepherd of the sheep. A day is coming, when the Great Shepherd will erase all sin. All idleness, all faintheartedness, all weakness and all vengeance will be no more. But until then, we aim to imitate our leaders, who imitate Christ, in our “work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thess 1:3)

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  • Read 1 Thessalonians 5:12-28 and Romans 12:3-17. What similarities and differences do you see?
  • In reflecting on 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 and Joe’s sermon from last week in Hebrews 13, how can you be a source of joy to your pastor and not a source of grief?
  • Do you know and respect the church leaders in your life? Are you familiar with all that is done by our church leaders on behalf of your soul and the rest of the flock?
  • In 1 Corinthians 11:27-30, Paul admonishes us to partake of the Lord’s Supper with self-examination and careful regard for the body of Christ. If a member has significant conflict with others in the church, our elders instruct us to refrain from participating and to make efforts towards reconciliation and peace.  Is there anyone in our community that you are not in harmony with? What would repentance look like in that relationship?
  • How did Paul urge the church to deal with the idle, the fainthearted and the weak?
  • Encouraging and helping others is often well received, but not so much with admonishment. Why do you think people bristle at being counseled and challenged? Why does this require much wisdom and discernment in relating to others? Have you ever admonished someone, who in hindsight, you should have encouraged? Or encouraged someone you should have been admonishing or warning?
  • Returning “evil for evil” is the normal human pattern. What practical ways can we return “good for evil” when we are wronged and we really do not feel like it? Who is our ultimate model of excellence in this regard?