Compassion

15 Guidelines For Holy Living

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In 1 Thessalonians 5, Paul gives us 15 guidelines for holy living – concrete action steps that keep us open and available to God.

Scripture:       

1 Kings, chapter 1; 1 Chronicles, chapter 28; Psalm 91; 1 Thessalonians, chapter 5

1 Thessalonians 5:12-24 (CEB):

Brothers and sisters, we ask you to respect those who are working with you, leading you, and instructing you. Think of them highly with love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are disorderly. Comfort the discouraged. Help the weak. Be patient with everyone. Make sure no one repays a wrong with a wrong, but always pursue the good for each other and everyone else.

Rejoice always. Pray continually. Give thanks in every situation because this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Don’t suppress the Spirit. Don’t brush off Spirit-inspired messages, but examine everything carefully and hang on to what is good. Avoid every kind of evil.

Now, may the God of peace himself cause you to be completely dedicated to him; and may your spirit, soul, and body be kept intact and blameless at our Lord Jesus Christ’s coming. The one who is calling you is faithful and will do this.

Observations: 15 Guidelines for Holy Living

Over the last two days, I’ve reflected on passages from 1 Thessalonians that relate to holiness (“Filling in the Gaps: Holiness and Spiritual Development” and “What is God’s Will? For Us to Be Holy”). In today’s reading, Paul closes his comments with a burst of short statements which tell us how to put holiness into practice. The first group of these statements deals with our relationships with each other; the second group focuses on our personal spiritual health.

As an introduction, it’s important to recognize that both community and individual development involve holiness. God’s call to be holy is intended to make us more like Jesus. Both our relationships within the body of Christ and our personal spiritual health impact the way we love God and neighbor. Paul’s guidelines in this passage therefore address both of these areas.

Guidelines within the Body of Christ

Verses 12-15 contain the following directives from Paul:

  • Respect those who are working with you, leading you, and instructing you.
  • Live in peace with each other.
  • Warn those who are disorderly.
  • Comfort the discouraged.
  • Help the weak.
  • Be patient with everyone.
  • Make sure no one repays a wrong with a wrong.
  • Pursue the good for each other and everyone else.

Each of these encourages us to actions which strengthen the church. Respecting those who are in authority – working with you, leading you, and instructing you – builds up the church by submitting to God’s rule over all of us. If God has placed, or allowed, someone in authority in his church, we need to respect that authority. Warning those who are disorderly is good for the body, but it is also good for the individual who may be moving away from God. Being patient with everyone creates an environment of trust and encouragement that enables everyone to thrive spiritually.

Guidelines for Personal Spiritual Development

In verses 16-22, Paul gives us a series of areas on which to focus our personal spiritual growth:

  • Rejoice always.
  • Pray continually.
  • Give thanks in every situation.
  • Don’t suppress the Spirit.
  • Don’t brush off Spirit-inspired messages.
  • Examine everything carefully and hang on to what is good.
  • Avoid every kind of evil.

The first three items really deal with our attitude. Paul focuses our attention on gratitude – rejoicing always and giving thanks. Praying continually helps us to be grateful and joyful because praying keeps our attention on God, rather than on ourselves. Now, when Paul says, “Pray continually,” he does not mean that we are on our knees 24/7. Instead, I believe he’s calling us to live in constant connection with God. We don’t have to be talking all the time. Instead, we are open to God’s direction – we are always listening for his leading. We respond to God’s direction; we thank him, or ask for his help, as appropriate. Fixing our eyes on Jesus – our ears and our hearts as well – enables us to be grateful, because we learn to recognize his presence and his work on our behalf.

The second three statements amplify how we listen and respond to God. Suppressing the Spirit weakens our ability to recognize his voice and respond in obedience. Brushing off Spirit-inspired messages does the same. When the Spirit speaks to us, we need to do what he tells us. Obedience reinforces our ability to recognize God’s words and his work. But we need to examine everything carefully, because Satan is very clever and seeks to deceive God’s people. Remember: Satan quoted Scripture when he tempted Jesus (Matthew 4:1-11). He will try the same thing with us. It’s not enough to just recognize Scripture; we need to apply it correctly. I believe that’s what Paul means by hang on to what is good.

The final statement really sums up the entire list: avoid every kind of evil. If we hang on to what is goodand avoid every kind of evil, we will keep ourselves squarely within God’s will for us.

God is Both Faithful and Able

Paul closes this passage with a renewed call to holiness: May the God of peace himself cause you to be completely dedicated to him. As we saw yesterday, “completely dedicated” is the CEB translation of the word which means “sanctified.” Our part in God’s sanctifying work is to completely surrender to him. If we are completely surrendered, God cleanses and empowers us. And when we are cleansed and empowered, God keeps us. May your spirit, soul, and body be kept intact and blameless at our Lord Jesus Christ’s coming.

To sum it all up, Paul reminds us that God is both faithful and able: The one who is calling you is faithful and will do this.

Application: 15 Guidelines for Holy Living

God is reminding us that we don’t make ourselves holy. We can’t. All we can do is to surrender ourselves to him (and we even need his help with that). But when we surrender ourselves to him, he makes us holy and empowers us to do his will.

So often, we look around and think, “I can’t do it! God is calling me to do this, or to live like that, and I can’t do it. It’s hopeless!” And if it were all up to us, we’d be right. We can’t do it; it would be hopeless. But God doesn’t leave it all up to us. The one who is calling you is faithful and will do this. He cleanses us and empowers us. When we acknowledge his authority, He “sanctifies us through and through” (NIV translation of verse 23). When God leads us, these 15 guidelines become the foundation of our relationship with him.

Prayer:

Father, thank you for speaking to us through your Word. Jesus said that the Spirit would lead us into the truth; your Word is truth. Thank you for giving us concrete steps that guide us as we seek to be holy as you are holy. Bless us with your presence and strength today.  Amen.

 





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Written by: OchriO

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