Key verse: 1st Thessalonians 5:11
Big idea: Our hope takes our eyes off ourselves and turns them to each other.
As the Apostle Paul closes his first letter to the church at Thessalonica, he continues the subject of the end of time. He explains to them that there is no need to obsess about details which are unknowable because the Lord will come like a thief in the night. Rather their posture should be of constant, hopeful expectation: Jesus is coming and God’s ancient verdict will be true once again, it will be “very good.” Of course, it will not be good for everyone. For those who reject God, His return means judgment and condemnation. But for us, it is a source of joy.
Verse 5 is particularly interesting. Paul explains that because we are the children of light, the Lord will not overtake us as a thief in the night. We live in the same world as everyone else but because we have been born again, we are living in the light of day already. Our circumstances may be the same but by the grace of God, we are in a position to already see day breaking over the horizon. Since we are children of the light, the Apostle says, we should live like it. But how? How should our lives be different? Again, it is not by a detailed knowledge of future events. It is a life that is marked by a change in priorities. It is by a transformed life.
This is where our key verse for today comes in. If we have been transformed by the gospel and have the encouragement of that hope, then we should not sit at home in self-satisfaction. We should comfort others! If the power of death and sin have been broken we should encourage one another and build each other up for God’s glory. My life is no longer my own – it is the Lord’s. Once again, the Bible confronts us with the need for the church. We cannot be who we are intended to be alone but need to be built up our brothers and sisters, even as we build them up. Brother John quoted Ecclesiastes in his sermon on Sunday night and it is a good place to end: “
Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up. Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone? And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
Discussion idea: Why has God designed us where we need encouragement and building up from other people, instead of just from the Bible and the Holy Spirit alone?
Prayer focus: Pray for the opportunity to encourage someone, specifically, today.