Gracefully Truthful

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Discover the original intent of Scripture. Make good application to our everyday lives.
Become equipped to correctly handle the Word of Truth!

Read His Words Before Ours!

2 Thessalonians 5:12-28

12 Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to give recognition to those who labor among you and lead you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to regard them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. 14 And we exhort you, brothers and sisters: warn those who are idle, comfort the discouraged, help the weak, be patient with everyone. 15 See to it that no one repays evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good for one another and for all. 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray constantly, 18 give thanks in everything; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 19 Don’t stifle the Spirit. 20 Don’t despise prophecies, 21 but test all things. Hold on to what is good. 22 Stay away from every kind of evil.

23 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely. And may your whole spirit, soul, and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful; he will do it. 25 Brothers and sisters, pray for us also. 26 Greet all the brothers and sisters with a holy kiss. 27 I charge you by the Lord that this letter be read to all the brothers and sisters. 28 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

The Original Intent

1) How are we instructed to recognize and regard our Christian leaders? (verses 12-13)

In his letter to the Thessalonians, Paul urges them to “give recognition to those who labor among you and lead you in the Lord and admonish you, and to regard them very highly in love because of their work.” (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13) God desires the church to regard their leaders very highly in love because of the work they do to teach, nurture, and lead His people.

Nearly all churches in America recognize their pastors during October for Pastor Appreciation month. Pastors receive gift cards, baked treats, cash, flowers, and other tangible rewards as appreciation for their service. Pastors love being valued in this way, but the church should honor their leaders through encouragement and prayer on a consistent basis. (1 Timothy 2:1-2)

The work our leaders do on the daily is what keeps our churches growing and thriving. Pastors teach us the Scriptures and instruct us how to live out Christ’s teaching in our daily lives. They pray for our health and well-being, they counsel us in family matters and relationship struggles, and they challenge us when we need to hear God’s truth applied to our lives. Author and pastor’s wife, Kristen Wetherell, suggests “Your encouragement will both deepen [your pastor’s] confidence in the power of God’s Word and also increase his desire to faithfully read, enjoy, study, communicate, and apply it. You will help him press on in ministry when the going gets tough, whether personally, culturally, or within the church.”

Let’s commit to encouraging and praying for our pastors with regularity (1 Timothy 5:17) for in doing so we minister to the Body of Christ (Ephesians 4:12).

The Everyday Application

1) How are we instructed to recognize and regard our Christian leaders? (verses 12-13)

Somewhere in my box of “treasures” languishing in the basement is a note I received during my junior year of high school. I was assisting in a first grade class where one little boy needed some extra help with reading. A few days into our work together he slipped me a note that melted my heart. In clumsy, backwards letters he let me know how much he appreciated my help and the time and attention I gave him. I have worked with kids most days since then, in some capacity or another, and those letters, cards, pictures and gifts of encouragement have never lost their power to recharge my batteries or refocus my vision.

Knowing I’m making a difference for my students gives me the strength to face the hard days that seem like swimming through peanut butter. Under the Spirit’s leading, Paul instructed the Church to recognize and highly regard our leaders. Charles Ellicott explains, “The bond which binds the Christian community to their directors is not to be one of ‘recognition’ and obedience only but of holy affection above all.”

Paul knew the dedication of leaders to the care and nurturing of their churches was labor intensive and sacrificial, patterned after the example of Jesus. (Mark 10:45) He exhorted the church to do more than acknowledge and say thanks, though they should do that as well. He wanted them to act in love, sharing their blessings with church leaders as a way to honor the work of God done through them. (Galatians 6:6)

Follow Paul’s suggestion and reach out to your church leaders with love and encouragement, let them know the work they do is impacting your life.

The Original Intent

2) Why is it important for Christ-followers to be at peace among themselves? (verse 13)

Paul charged the believers in Thessalonica to “be at peace among yourselves” as he taught the church how to engage with one another. (1 Thessalonians 5:13) A.S. Patterson asserts, “Social peace among true Christians is highly important, both for their own mutual improvement and personal comfort, and for the recommendation of religion to the world; and it is to be maintained by the cultivation both of unanimity of sentiment and of kindliness of feeling”.

When there is disharmony among Christians, it sends a negative message about the church to the world. Feuding between Christians makes it seem the truths they share about Jesus are ineffective. Christians are meant to be identified by their love (John 13:35); discord detracts from the winsome beauty of Jesus’ love. Disunity makes it difficult to see Christ in our lives when we are not living at peace with one another. (1 Corinthians 3:3)

Since living in peace is so important to the Lord, Christians ought to focus on the things they have in common and let God guide them through their differences with a heart committed to loving devotion toward each other. (2 Timothy 3:17)

Jeremy Ham explains, “Since there is one faith, there will be unity in this faith, so we should be like-minded. Whenever Christians have conflicts, we should remember that we all are pressing and working toward the same goal.” We must walk out what we preach, living in peace under the Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)

The Everyday Application

2) Why is it important for Christ-followers to be at peace among themselves? (verse 13)

When my son was in 2nd grade our state allowed homeschoolers to attend online school for free, so we took advantage of the program. He was in virtual class with kids of different races and religions. One student was Rastafarian, others Muslim, some were Jewish, others Christian and Catholic. From all over our state, these kids and their backgrounds were as different as they could be, but our families were unified by the common goal of learning at home and curating the learning environment we found most beneficial for our children.

The Body of Christ could benefit by remembering the common goals we all have, to glorify God (Isaiah 43:7) and make Him known in the world (Acts 20:24). Paul admonished readers to “be at peace among yourselves” in 1 Thessalonians 5:13. He knew divisive issues would arise, pitting believers against one another and dimming the light of our testimony as we point others to Jesus. (Matthew 5:16)

Christ desires us to live in peace together, despite our differences and contentions, so we will draw others to know Him as He truly is. (Mark 16:15) John Piper notes, “The gospel creates peace with God. And the gospel creates lovers of humble peace and workers for peace.” When Christians pursue peace among themselves, they bring glory to God and cause others to want the peace they have found.

The Original Intent

3) What does it look like to always pursue what is good for one another and for all? (verse 15)

In 1 Thessalonians 5:15, Paul exhorted readers to “See to it that no one repays evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good for one another and for all.“ Instead of retaliating or looking for payback when bad things happen, the Lord teaches believers to actively pursue things that are good for our brothers and sisters in Christ.

To pursue what is good for each other means we are not looking out for our own best interests ahead of others (Philippians 2:3-4) while working for the good of our fellow believers. (Galatians 6:10) Pursuing what is good for all involves treating other people the way we want to be treated (Matthew 7:12) with a willingness to be last instead of first (Matthew 20:16).

Loving devotion to one another means surrendering our presumed “right” to have the last word about everything. It means speaking the truth in love instead of turning a blind eye to keep the peace. (Ephesians 4:15) Pursuing what is good for each other doesn’t mean we always agree, but it means we can disagree with respect and love. (Romans 14)

The Everyday Application

3) What does it look like to always pursue what is good for one another and for all? (verse 15)

I admire moms and dads who are purposeful in their parenting. They plan ahead and budget time for teachable moments. This means they allow their kids to actively help cook a meal or fold the laundry even if it takes 3 times longer than if they shooed the kids out of the room and finished the tasks themselves. These parents know it is best for the child and, eventually, the whole family for their children to learn life skills like cooking and cleaning at an early age. Purposeful parents consider what is best for their children in the long run and value those goals over immediate convenience.

The Apostle Paul championed purposefully pursuing good towards others when he wrote verse 15, “See to it that no one repays evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good for one another and for all.“ Paul desired to mimic Christ’s heart-desire for His people to always be about the business of doing what is good for all, even when it’s tempting to be retributive for personal injustices.

The way to live peaceably is to put others first and treat them honorably, even when they don’t deserve it. (Romans 12:10-14) When we give a gentle answer rather than quarreling, we squelch anger and promote peace. (Proverbs 15:1) It can be difficult to put others’ needs above our own (1 Corinthian 10:24), but we can ask the Lord to help us pursue good for each other so we can live together peacefully and show the world God’s love in action. (John 15:12)

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