Lasting Instructions

Scripture Resource Passage: 1 Thessalonians 5–this week’s challenging read and reflection. I trust you don’t find either as dry as dirt!

Ibrahim said, “I had a teacher whose favorite summary was: ‘Finally, therefore and in conclusion….’ it drove me crazy but it helped me pay attention because I knew his instructions were going to be on the test!”

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                  Do you recognize a similar pattern in today’s passage? Paul’s first letter to disciples in Thessalonica includes numerous incisive instructions. The model of finally-therefore-and-in-conclusion is also present: the instructions are testing-time for disciples. 

                  At least nineteen specific instructions occur in 1 Thessalonians 5. Discipleship-testing may occur over any or all. You should be able to locate them with ease—I suggest you print out today’s passage to aid your study. 

                  Then, if you are up to a challenge, consider working on sobriety (mentioned twice), a challenge given in the context of Christ’s return—which is more than an instruction to avoid substance abuse.  Seeking sustainable sobriety means you will systematically process God’s desire for yourself and others—a significant spiritually tuned state-of-mind.

                  Disciples particularly seek to avoid substance abuse because it has been linked to distorted thinking about the return of Christ. Our brother Paul wrote: there is no value in speculating about the day of the Lord’s return for it will come “like a thief in the night”—at an unknown hour; but, but be assured the time is coming (I Thessalonians 5:2).  

                  The Apostle writes with authority for these words are a rephrasing of Jesus’ statement: “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Matthew 24:36). Drawing from the truth presented by Jesus, Paul clearly had that one right—we are to avoid needless speculation (2 Timothy 2:14-18). A second instruction follows the first.

                  While sober, disciple’s live life as “children of the light” (1 Thessalonians 5:5) which draws from many images of God as Creator of light (Genesis 1). Sobriety continues to be a benefit as we participate in “putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet” (1 Thessalonians 5:8).

                  Ibrahim, and each disciple can recall Jesus directing each of us when he appears to be saying, “Finally, therefore and in conclusion ‘You are the light of the world…’” (Matthew 5:14-16). 

Life Applications

  1. Do you see the test? “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to Your Father Who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
  2. Consider including a song for your day’s spiritual emphasis. You could choose the old chorus—Thy Word or the recent work of Chris Tomlin, Jason Ingram and Louie Giglio,  “Speak What is True.” Each of these are available through numerous online platforms.
  3. Bible study helps: Evelyn Underhill, Light of Christ, 1945 and Jaroslav Pelikan, The Light of the World, 1962—available through various online sellers. Additionally, Bible dictionaries and encyclopedias can be helpful.  Consider: H.J.S. Blaney, “Light,” in The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, Volume Three, General editor Merrill C. Tenny, Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 2ndprinting 1977. Though an older source the five volumes of this set continue to provide reliable assistance.

Published by Andrew Simkins

Dr. Andrew Simkins provides spiritual direction for individuals and small groups through the regular blog posts found on this site. He resides in northwest Indiana with his beloved, along with nearby children and grandchildren who are the adornment of his life.

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