Parents are leaving a child for the evening. While they are spending a few hours away, the child will stay at home…by himself/herself…for the first time. Typically, the child has spent the night with grandparents, a friend, or…in a pinch…a “babysitter” has come in. The final conversation before the parents head out the door is an important one. Chances are, you have been on one end or the other of this conversation. It includes rapid-fire instruction and reminders about stove use, snack consumption, television and computer rules, teeth brushing, bedtime, and more.
As Paul concludes this first letter to spiritual children in Thessalonica, he closes with some rapid-fire instruction as well. In these few verses, Paul let’s loose with a barrage of reminders that cover many different facets of the Christian life. Perhaps those rapid-fire thoughts came at you so quickly that you weren’t able to consider them. In broad stroke categories, I suppose we could say that Paul is concerned that we understand…
1. How to relate to others (vv. 12-15). There are statements here that tell us how to relate to spiritual leaders as well as to those who are lazy, scared, not so strong, and even to those who wrong us.
2. How to respond to circumstances (vv. 16-18). Of course, prayer is always appropriate. But when we realize that God is in control, joy and thanksgiving should be can be our dominant responses independent of what is happening around us.
3. How to retain spiritual energy (vv. 19-22). Be careful! Not everything is wholesome and spiritually sound. But don’t allow your spiritual caution to become a wet blanket placed on even that which the Spirit of God wants to do in your life.
4. How to remain dependent upon God (vv. 23, 24). While you play an important role in your spiritual development, God is not a mere spectator. He is the one who faithfully transforms. Don’t try to do the Christian life without Him.
Which of those did you need to hear and respond to today?