This morning David continued our ‘Living In-between’ series, looking at 1 Thessalonians 5:12-15. This passage gives us direction on navigating relationships with those in the church. David began by reiterating how good Christian relationships really do matter, as both a witness to others and in terms of glorifying God. So how can we honour God in our relationships?
The passage speaks into four main areas:
1. Our relationship with church leaders
Our church leaders have a responsibility to work hard, care for, and admonish the church, whilst we as a church have a responsibility to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. How is your attitude towards your church leaders?
2. Our relationship with one another
This call is evident throughout many areas of scripture. Peace is one of the fruits of the Spirit, and if there is going to be unity as a church, then peace among us is essential. This is a challenging teaching, as sometimes peace with others does require every effort. When there is a lack of peace with others it affects every part of our lives; our hearts harden, our worship suffers, our witness is compromised and our relationship with God is affected. Therefore, let’s ask for God’s help as we seek to live in peace with each other in a world full of so much conflict.
3. Our relationship with those who are struggling
Paul urges us as a church to get alongside and reach out to those who are struggling. Firstly, he calls us to warn those who are disrupting the peace. Instead of standing back and judging them, we are to get alongside them and speak into their lives, admonishing and correcting them, and therefore helping them in their struggle. However, David reminded us that this must come from a place of love and connection, to protect unity and help each other grow in faith. Secondly, Paul calls us to encourage the disheartened and help the weak. Finally, we are called to be patient with everybody. This is not an easy command, and we cannot do it on our own; we need God’s help. If we find ourselves lacking in patience, we should remember God’s patience with us. No matter how many times we have wandered from God, He is still faithful and patient with us. So, let’s fix our eyes on God’s limitless and abundant patience as we seek to be patient with everyone, including the disruptive, the discouraged and the weak.
4. Our relationship with our enemies
We can often get caught up in the world’s ideas, a world in which revenge is so natural, but which is simply not the way of Jesus. Instead, we are called to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. This is one of the most difficult and misinterpreted teachings in scripture. However, as David began by saying, “It’s in the Bible”. Therefore, we cannot escape this difficult teaching. Unless we live it out, we will miss out on a way of life that reflects Christ, as opposed to satisfying self, and that inspires others, as opposed to destroying them. These words are challenging and tough, but let’s not ignore them, nor dilute them. Instead, let’s ask for God’s help as we endeavour to live at peace with those around us, in a way that glorifies God and points to His coming kingdom.
- Examine your attitude to your church leaders, to each other, to those who struggle, and to your enemies. Pray over these four areas of relationships.
- Is there anyone you need to make peace with this week? Ask for God’s help.
- Reflect on the patience that God has for us.