1 Thessalonians 5:12-28
But we appeal to you, brothers and sisters, to respect those who labour among you, and have charge of you in the Lord and admonish you; esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. And we urge you, beloved, to admonish the idlers, encourage the faint-hearted, help the weak, be patient with all of them. See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise the words of prophets, but test everything; hold fast to what is good; abstain from every form of evil.
May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this.
Beloved, pray for us.
Greet all the brothers and sisters with a holy kiss. I solemnly command you by the Lord that this letter be read to all of them.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
‘Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
‘The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!
‘No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.
Good morning. We hear from the readings this morning that a LOT is expected of us. Moses gives a list of the Lord’s expectations, in many instances echoing the Big Ten commandments. In Matthew’s section of the Sermon on the Mount, we hear Jesus saying the motivation that should drive us to do good. In what we cherish, we reveal our heart.
In the First Thessalonians reading, we see Paul doing some Open Heart surgery. He is talking to believers, and gives a slew of things that need correcting or maintaining. In his laundry list, he still could be speaking to us today.
- respect those who labour among you, and have charge of you in the Lord and admonish you;
- esteem them very highly in love because of their work.
- Be at peace among yourselves.
- admonish the idlers,
- encourage the faint-hearted,
- help the weak,
- be patient with all of them.
- See that none of you repays evil for evil, but
- always seek to do good to one another and to all.
- Rejoice always,
- pray without ceasing,
- give thanks in all circumstances
- Do not quench the Spirit.
- Do not despise the words of prophets,
- ...but test everything;
- hold fast to what is good;
- abstain from every form of evil.
In these 17 admonitions Paul sums up how to treat others, and more importantly how to be. We are to be like Christ. Loving at all times. Forgiving at all times. Moving people toward their best selves, not who they backslide into when they are at their worst. And when they do that, or we do that, we get reconnected and start all over again.
When I taught Middle School, there was a phrase I used a lot. And some days I said it to myself. When someone had a bad day, especially in interacting with their peers, I would make a point to say to them as they were walking out the door, “Tomorrow is a new day.” And more importantly I would mean it. We all need a do-over every so often.
This is such a key part of our Christian faith, we Episcopalians even include it in our Baptismal Covenant.
Q: Will you persevere in resisting evil, and, whenever you fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord?
A: I will, with God’s help.
And that is the beauty of our faith. We are empowered and enabled to be agents of faith on our own, and we are also bolstered and encouraged and forgiven and restored by God when we fall short, and as we all know, that happens far too often.
So today, my prayer for you is to live up to Paul’s words. Maybe try them on for size, just for today: Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances. Do not quench the Spirit. Amen