Paul gave the Thessalonians’ leaders and members, practical as well as spiritual advice about how to relate to one another! According to Paul, we are not only advised to encourage others, but to also build each other up spiritually. Ancient strategies for dealing with people may be reflected in these verses. Leaders of Paul’s time (1st Century AD) knew this and were encouraged to carefully diagnose the situation and correct followers to choose the right way that would please God, not man. Above all, leaders were expected to examine themselves before trying to correct others. Paul advised that God is our model and that we need to live to be worthy of Him! Are we to distrust and challenge leadership or should we blindly submit to it? How are our lives impacted by authority?
Paul gave much attention in his writings to the leaders of Christianity and how they treated members under their care. How can we in today’s world apply what we read in these verses to ourselves? Meanwhile, can any of these principles be used at home, at work, in the neighborhood or wherever we find ourselves? Paul encouraged the Thessalonians to warn those who were unruly (1 Thessalonians 5:14). There were many people in Paul’s time who had visible limitations and were difficult in fellowship with others and had to be confronted by leaders. These problems sometimes surface in our world today. Paul’s advice included directing leaders to help the weak and timid, those discouraged by hardships, the fearful without knowledge, those with a troubled past or survival problems that required patience. Such people matter to God and require encouragement and patience from everyone involved. It may be crucial to leadership to keep the good of others in mind as ministry is provided. There will be times when we as believers need to be mentored to continue doing the Lord’s work. Prayer is always needed to grow in admonition of the Lord and when mentoring others or evaluating ourselves.
What did Paul consider to be the will of God for every believer? Are his ideas important today? Certainly positive Christian attitudes help us to accept and give good advice in our relationships with others. Let us continue to give rejoicing the emphasis it deserves. Thankfulness should have first priority in our Christian activities. To keep ourselves afloat spiritually, it may be expedient for all of us to express thanks in every situation. We can encourage ourselves by expressing gratitude. Let us open our eyes to see the blessings of God all around us, but sometimes we forget to thank Him. Our lives can be more joyful when we do not focus too much on our trials, tribulations and struggles of living!
It is interesting and helpful to notice that Paul certainly was a model of what it means to pray without ceasing. His messages to the Thessalonians were saturated with prayers. Paul encouraged others to follow his examples. Paul’s advice can stimulate us today to be willing workers for God in creative activities:
1. Share knowledge with others.
2. Take advantage of opportunities to serve God. Use modern technology to serve God.
3. Use available skills whenever possible to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ.
4. Praise God more often through prayer.
5. Let joy and gratitude permeate our lives as we submit to God in every area of our personal lives.
Paul wrote to the Thessalonians to encourage them. They had been true to God in spite of sufferings. Somehow the circle of believers grew despite opposition and teachings of the gospel of Jesus Christ spread anyhow. Let us continue to be a part of God’s plan to redeem the world. This realization can give us confidence in God’s word and His love for us as it did for the new believers in Thessalonica!
Mrs. Gladys R. McElmore, a resident of Norfolk’s Middle Town Arch Community, is a New Journal and Guide Freelance Contributor on religion. She is a native of Essex County, Va.