I have confessed many times before about my OCD/Type A personality style. It certainly has its pros and cons. Yes, my sink is usually dish free, but my heart can struggle without a clear list from God about how to live the life He has called me too. Let me say, I’m grateful He didn’t give us a list and I understand why He didn’t. We would become just like the Pharisees and grow cold and condemning from following a list and crossing things off in our relationship with God instead of seeking Him on a personal level.
That said, the scriptures can be daunting and my desire to live as Christ has called me, strong, so imagine how awesome it was for this Type A girl to find in 1 Thessalonians a set of 22 commandments (laws, edicts, orders, precepts, or rule – whatever you want to call it) for Christians from the apostle Paul. Not commandments from God’s mouth like the Ten Commandments found in Exodus 20 because if you are a Christian those are just the beginning. I remember the mindset I had in my prayers as an ill-equipped young Christian. At night when I was supposed to confess my sins, I would think, I didn’t cuss, kill, steal or commit adultery so I think I’m ok in that department. How wrong!! How terribly wrong!!!
I love how Paul takes it one step further, giving some wonderful, clear and intentional instructions on what it should look like after we say, “God, I believe in your son, Jesus. I believe He came, walked this earth, died, was buried and rose again. I understand and praise you that He suffered and died for me on that cross. He has covered all my sins.” Seriously, how do we live after accepting a gift like that? Paul gives us some great insight in his letter to the Thessalonians. I’m so grateful for this answer to prayer I’ve had so long. Let’s take a look. I used the ESV translation and added in numbers in parenthesis for each of Paul’s commandments so you wouldn’t miss them. Please note the numbers are not the verse numbers.
Therefore (1) encourage one another and (2) build one another up, just as you are doing. We ask you, brothers, to (3) respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and (4) to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. (5) Be at peace among yourselves. And we urge you, brothers, (6) admonish the idle, (7) encourage the fainthearted, (8) help the weak, (9) be patient with them all. (10) See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but (11) always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. (12) Rejoice always, (13) pray without ceasing, (14) give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (15) Do not quench the Spirit. (16) Do not despise prophecies, (17) but test everything; (18) hold fast what is good. (19) Abstain from every form of evil. Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it. Brothers, (20) pray for us. (21) Greet all the brothers with a holy kiss. I put you under oath before the Lord to (22) have this letter read to all the brothers. 1 Thessalonians 5:11-25
Are you speechless? This may not be your first time reading these verses (as it wasn’t mine), but maybe like me they fell afresh on your heart. Something struck me as I looked at the verses running together with these loving, direct and clear instructions from Paul. It’s a list! A beautiful list and it’s an answer to prayer for me and for all of us. Clear instructions on how to live like we believe Christ died for us. I’ve been so inspired by these verses, I’m going to sit on them for several weeks, pick them apart and pray God (not matter how difficult) reveals to me how I can live these out in His name. Be on the lookout for the follow-up blogs that relate to these verses. I hope you will join me in this process. It’s so much easier with friends!