Dear Student of the Word,
I had time over the Fourth of July holiday to prepare the next installment from my Thessalonians study. This installment finishes up Paul's first letter and actually begins to look at the second letter. Some believe these to be among Paul's earliest letters, but they are still chock full of important insight for you and I to learn and apply. For instance, look at what I wrote in part one of this week's study, and then download the rest at the bottom to see how I follow it up:
Study Four, Part One
15 Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else. 16 Be joyful always;
5:15 – Almost all Paul’s letters follow the same format. The first half of the letter is theological or doctrinal; the second half is practical. This letter is no exception. As Paul ended this letter, he presented a “to do” list for the Thessalonians. He instructed that no one should back a wrong with a wrong. That can be difficult for sure. It’s so difficult not to react to an insult with an insult, or a wrong deed with another wrong deed.
Paul’s standard was that we are to try and be kind to everyone, not just those who are kind to us. Of course, Paul didn’t teach anything that Jesus hadn’t taught as well. Remember: Jesus is our model and He certainly modeled this verse and gave us guidelines of how to do the same:
"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:43-48).
Take verse 15 and the passage from Matthew above and do a quick check. Are you being kind to everyone, even those who are your “enemies?” If not, where do you need to repent and follow God’s agenda and not your own?
5:16 – This is a simple, straightforward verse—“be joyful always.” One could ask: What part of “joyful” or “always” don’t you understand? Being joyful must be a choice or Paul would not have commanded you to maintain it. Joy isn’t based on circumstances; it’s based on position—being in Christ. Paul wrote to the Philippians:
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! (Philippians 4:4).
You rejoice not because you love everything that is going on in your life, but because you are experiencing everything in your life while you are in Christ. You rejoice “in” the Lord. Are you “in the Lord?” If you are, then are you rejoicing? Why or why not? What are you prepared to do about it?
As always, I welcome your comments to this week's study. For additional Bible studies, check out my website archive, which contains a complete collection of all my verse-by-verse New Testament studies, along with the unpublished volume of The Faith Files.
DAILY DEVOTIONAL: Do you know that I post a daily devotional to my blog entitled "What Would Jesus Ask You Today?" I take a question from the Bible and pose it to you to think about for the day, along with a few lines of my thoughts and a cross-referenct to another part of the Bible. It is short and perfect for today's busy person. You can check it out and subscribe to receive it here.
WOULD YOU PAY $1,000 FOR A BASEBALL TICKET? You have a chance to do just that to benefit the orphans in Kenya! Read about it here and then be part of a special night here in Pittburgh to benefit the poor in Kenya on July 24.
KENYA TRIP: My trip to Kenya from August 17-31 is coming together. So far, I know I will be hosting a DISC Certification Profiling Seminar (for those interested in making profiling a part of their business), a Purpose Profiling Seminar, A Dream to Reality Seminar, and one PX2 and Investment in Excellence, the latter two from The Pacific Institute. Please write if you live in Kenya and are interested in receiving information about any or all of these events as the times draws near.