He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
1 Thessalonians 5:5, 10-11 (NIV)
Read: 1 Thessalonians 5:1-28
Consider: In 1 Thessalonians 5 Paul uses words like ‘asleep’ and ‘awake’ (see v6 and v10) when describing people. However, the words used might cause some confusion as Paul is not really talking about being asleep or awake physically. What Paul is talking about is being awake or asleep spiritually. Being ‘awake’ is therefore being alive in Christ – the Greek word used can mean being watchful or alert. Being ‘asleep’ refers to being dead in sin, with the person being indifferent to their salvation. One commentator likened those who are asleep to those who sleepwalk their way through life.
As Christians we should be watchful so that we do not fall into sin. We should also be mindful of the fact that Jesus is sure to return, even though we do not know when. In 1 Thessalonians 5:4 Paul says: But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. The day he is referring to is Christ’s return (the day of the Lord) (v2).
1 Thessalonians 5 is not just about Christ’s return, it is also about how we should live in full knowledge of his return. Paul tells the Thessalonian believers to ‘… encourage one another and build each other up …’ (v11). He directs their encouragement to:
– those who lead them (v13);
– the idle and disruptive (v14);
– the disheartened (v14).
This is a mixture of those who would be seen to be strong in the Lord, as well as those who are weak. In other words, everyone in the church needs encouragement. Do you reserve your encouragement for only certain people in the church fellowship? If so, distribute your encouragement freely; even the pastors and musicians can be discouraged and in need of encouragement. If you imagine encouragement as a bag that is full of good words that can be shared with others, the bag never runs empty. You can give out as much encouragement as you like and you’ll still have a bountiful supply left for sharing.
May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thessalonians 5:23)
Pray: Father, may we be watchful for those sins that can creep up on us. Help us to be encouragers, looking for those who seem to be struggling, as well as those who seem strong but still need encouragement. Amen