This is my 9th post in a series on 1 Thessalonians 5:11-25. This week we are looking at what I’ve numbered as the 17th and 18th (out of 22) commandments/guidelines Paul lists on how to live our lives worthy of the gospel. We are nearing the end of our adventure with Paul and I’m looking forward to seeing what God places on my heart next, but for this week we are focusing on the commandments to:
(17) test everything; and (18) hold fast to what it good
Recently, my daughter and I were doing a little back to school shopping. We went through the entire girls section and grabbed everything that looked cute or that we thought would look cute on. (We like to have fashion shows in the dressing room.) We ended up with over 16 items and headed into the dressing room. After trying each piece on and deciding “it’s to small, to low cut, just right or not cute enough to pay full price for.” we ended up buying only six of the items. Like most things we purchase, we want to try them out, get a recommendation, do a background check or read the reviews before we buy it. If we don’t, we make sure the store has a good return policy.
We need to be smart shoppers in our Christian lives too. Simple put, in these verses, Paul is staying, “Don’t be gullible, foolish or unsuspecting. Don’t be easily taken in or taken advantage of. Ask questions, seek the truth, respond with wisdom and discernment.” What’s interesting to me is that in saying those things, he is also telling us to be suspicious, unbelieving and untrusting. He is taking a concept straight from Jesus’s playbook.
“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. Matthew 10:16
This reminds me of the way we teach our children to respond to strangers. The delicate balance of being polite and saying hello if spoken to (when I’m with you) or run like the wind never believing any tall tales about delicious candy or lost dogs. I just had this talk with my children again, going overboard to make the point as I usually do, but hoping it will make a lasting impression on them. Remember what you have been taught, don’t be tricked or fooled. Stop and think! Use good judgement and wisdom. It’s sad when I have to teach them to be suspicious and untrusting. There really are still good people in the world, we just don’t read much about them in newsfeeds.
However, it’s one thing when a child acts suspicious or untrusting. We almost expect it or understand it because of safety concerns, but as adults we often think it’s rude to ask questions, be untrusting and suspicious. Paul is reminding us that as Christians there will be those who come along and offer new ideas, interpretations, question the Word of God, want to water it down and counter all we know to be true. Stop! Think! Don’t be gullible! Don’t just jump in – test it! Stick a toe in before you jump and compare it to what we know it Truth and the word of God. The trick is – we have to be in the Word to know the Word and to know the Word we have to read the Word! So jump into what is good because God doesn’t change.
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17
Hold tight to the Truth and what is good. Do not let the wolves and shifting shadows of this world distract you, cause you to stumble or forget to be wise and discerning. Stop, listen, question and hold tight to what is good. It’s OK to be untrusting and suspicious while we take time to think and reflect before taking action.
Hold tight to what is good!
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 (numbers aren’t verses, but the numbers I gave them for each directive/commandment)