Don’t Try This On Your Own
In 1 Thessalonians 5 we have three commands that are in verses 16-18. Here they are: 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. I don’t think that any of us are capable of even one of these three on our own. “Rejoice always?” Right. Try that one on your own. How difficult is it to rejoice when things go wrong…when you get the diagnosis you don’t want to hear…when you lose your job…when your son/daughter makes a life altering decision for the worst. “Pray without ceasing”…really? On our own we don’t really have any desire to pray, even at meal time. Finally, “in everything give thanks”…you’ve got to be kidding right? You want me to be thankful for him? You want me to be thankful for the layoff notice I just received? No way. It’s just not possible to do these things on our own. But Paul isn’t asking us to do these things on our own. Rather, Paul is saying that these things can be done by the follower of Jesus under the authority and control of God’s Holy Spirit.
By His power I can rejoice always. After all I serve a God who loves me and has a great plan for my life, despite the setbacks that are in my way. I can rejoice in that. I can maintain a constant attitude of prayer because God lives within me and lives to make intercession for me. I can pray without ceasing because of this. Finally, in everything give thanks. Again, because of the nature and character of God, I can give thanks in everything. I need not fear anything. I understand that even when others mean evil against me, God can turn it into good; so I can be thankful for everything. So don’t try to follow Paul’s commands on your own…you’ll fail and you’ll fail miserably. Rather, utilize God’s Spirit within you and then you can and should do these things. You will benefit and others who watch you will see Christ in you.