Saturday, July 25, 2020

Thessalonians Words ~ Day 20: Each Other

Day 20: Each Other

"Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing." 1 Thessalonians 5:11.

Today's verse is the last verse  of the passage we looked at yesterday's. Here Paul tells them, and us, that what he has said - everything about being prepared by living a holy life, about those who are living and those who are dead in Christ when He returns, and about our salvation from suffering the coming wrath of God at Christ's return - are meant to be used by them and us to encourage and build up the body of Christ.

There are a number of 'each other' and 'one another' passages in the letters to the Thessalonians. Such passages in the New Testament letters refer to how we are to live in the body of Christ with our fellow Christ-followers. Paul, and the other New Testament writers, make it clear that a part of holy living is how we live with one another as God's family. There are 100 verses in the New Testament that give us information on how we are to live with and treat each other as God's people. It is especially a topic Paul is passionate about with 60% of those verses being in Paul's writings. Another thing to note about both the verse we are looking at, and much of Paul's writings, is that this call to encourage and build up (edify) each other comes after he has given us the theology that should bring about that encouragement and edification. Paul often will lay a theological foundation - a teaching of biblical truths - and follow it with instructions on how to live with one another, on how we are to treat each other in God;s family. This pattern of Paul's shows us that right living flows from right learning (doctrine). In other words, what we learn about biblical truths should result in our living them out in community. This is not a parent telling his children to do something just because he says so! Rather it is a loving pastor teaching his people the truth of God's ways, and then, asking them to allow that truth to transform their way of living by the power of the Holy Spirit, so that they will be the holy people of God.

Here are the ways Paul encourages God's people to live with each other in the Thessalonian letters:

"May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you." 1 TH 3:12

"Now about your love for one another we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other." 1 TH 4:9

"Therefore encourage one another with these words." 1 TH 4:18

"Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing" 1 TH 5:11

"Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other." 1 TH 5:13

"Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else." 1 TH 5:15

"We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing." 2 TH 1:3

Read through this list again, slowly. Think about our current day with our world and our country facing a deadly pandemic. Think about our country with so much divisiveness and hate prevailing. We continue to let issues of politics and racial injustice divide us. Now take special note of verses 3:12 and 5:15 about love and being kind. Use your observation skills to note what has been added. Paul calls us to not just love and be kind to those we are in community with in God;s family, but to love and be kind to everyone else as well. Paul's instructions on how to live in community are never conditional, as in love, be at peace with, be kind to, or encourage only those who act the same way to us. Think of how different things in our world, our nation, our cities, our neighborhoods, and our families might be if we Christ followers led the way in loving and being kind to everyone else. Not letting it matter if they are of the same faith or not, if they are of the same race or not, the same political party or not, the same generation or not, and on and on. Let's live out Paul's call - the words approved by God - to love and be kind to each other and to everyone else.

Over the weekend try going through 1 Thessalonians chapter 5 with the study method and techniques we have been learning. Next week we will begin to look at different ways we can respond to God and apply what we have discovered through study.

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