1 THESSALONIANS 5
“Save the date!” Now that’s something that God will never say to you. Why should he tell you the date when Jesus will return – He didn’t even tell his own Son when on earth (see Mark 13:32). Jesus, after his Resurrection also told his disciples directly: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority” (Acts 1:7). We can be sure, though, that Jesus will return when we don’t expect him! He will come like a thief in the night!
Paul then gives the disciples advice on how to avoid getting a nasty shock – just don’t sleep! This is not referring to physical slumber, but an encouragement to disciples to behave as people do in the daytime – when they are under scrutiny. Most crimes occur under cover of darkness, which is why security lighting is one of the most effective methods of crime prevention. Exposure to the light – transparent, godly living – is the best way of preparing our lives for His scrutiny. Our domain should be that ‘of the day’, not ‘of the night’.
The final dozen or so verses of 1 Thessalonians 5 contain very wise advice and fatherly commands. In the main it consists of short ‘pithy’ sentences, reminiscent of the book of Proverbs. For example: Recognise those who work hard in leadership over you (caring and correcting you). Watch out for one another that we do not become idle or disruptive or even vindictive; if we do, then it is up to every disciple to issue a rebuke of correction – not just the leaders.
I am now going to tell you what God’s will is for your life: “Rejoice always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances” (vv16-18). Whatever else we are called to do must include the above!
Live in a way that is reliant upon the supernatural, but don’t be naïve and assume that all spiritual gifts are completely pure once they have passed through the human psyche. Test everything and hold on to everything that passes that test.
God will make us holy (‘set apart for his purposes’) in every aspect of our character and lifestyle. He aims to make us perfect by the time his Son returns to earth for us. (This is the fifth time in five consecutive chapters that the return of Jesus is emphasised.)
Every member of the church had to hear this letter read – so that no-one would have any excuse for disobeying the Spirit’s commands. We too need to hear, obey, and promote the commands of the Holy Spirit to our generation.