“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
For Paul, there is no better way to end this letter than to talk about the returning of Christ. He paints a beautiful picture for us of how we are supposed to be living in anticipation of our Savior coming back for us. Keep in mind, this letter was believed to be written around A.D. 51, so if he is urging those of Thessalonica to keep watch for the Lord’s second coming, then how much more does it apply to us nowadays?
“But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation.” (verse 8). Of the day can also be translated to living in the light, and the use of sober here is to express how our minds are to be clear instead of clouded with the infirmities of this world. As we read last week, there is nothing this world can offer that gives us everlasting peace and security. God intended us to have our salvation and live with Him “whether we wake or sleep”. (verses 9-10) This means that we walk with the Lord no matter what state we are in, dead or alive. If we live in Christ, then He is with us always (Matthew 28:20). If we die in Christ, then we are immediately in His presence (2 Corinthians 5:8). And what a glorious day that will be.
Paul continues to explain how they ought to live through short exhortations that share a common theme throughout: be ready and be watching. Basically, wake up every morning as if you will see Jesus in the flesh at any moment and time.
If we took on this posture every day, how different would our lives look? Would we be more willing to share the gospel to a complete stranger? Would we say no to our temptations and yes to Jesus? Would we hold onto grudges and anger or choose to love? Would we stand firm on the TRUTH of the Word no matter what that looks like to others? These can be very sobering questions for me.
But, my favorite exhortation he gives them is found in verses 16-18. For me, it sums up just about every aspect of the Christian life. If we rejoice always no matter what is happening, our lives will be witnesses to those on the outside. If we pray without ceasing, we are constantly lead by the Spirit in every situation and can distinguish His voice over our own. If we are thankful in all circumstances, God can work through our hearts and change our entire perspective. This is the will of God for our lives, sisters and brothers.
You may be asking, but how can I rejoice and be thankful when there is so much pain and destruction around me? Friend, we may not be able to thank the Lord for our losses and pain, but we can thank the Lord in our losses and pain because we know that God is in control and nothing can separate us from the love of Christ. (Romans 8:35-39)
Let us take the posture of being ready and watching for our Lord’s coming and live in Christ by rejoicing always, praying without ceasing, and being thankful. If Jesus were to come back today, would you be ready?
be free. xoxo