1 Thessalonians 5: 16 – 22
Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not treat prophecies with contempt 21 but test them all; hold on to what is good, 22 reject every kind of evil.
I once heard someone describe this passage as being the same as a mother dropping their son or daughter off at a friends for a sleep over. You know the kind of thing a mother says in such situations. Remember your manners, be polite, and do not be rude, if you are given something you don’t like to eat, eat it! Or perhaps that was just my mother! Her list though was a whole lot longer.
Paul though genuinely wants to help his friends in Thessalonica. He has described how far they have come already, how much they have achieved and how much they have to look forward to.
In these final few admonitions he is telling them, you have done a lot but carry on the course is not yet run. This he says is no time to sit back on your laurels and take it easy, the work of the Kingdom never ceases until such time as God comes again in glory.
So what were they to do? Rejoice, pray; hold on to the good, reject the evil. But also don’t try to douse the Spirit’s work in yourself, the community or others. All good advice for those in first century Thessalonica, and good advice for us too two millennia later.
There is one other advisory about not treating prophecies with contempt but testing them all. Paul knew that as times change God’s will for us would change and some would seek to give different advice, these he said were not to be rejected out of hand but to be weighed up and tested.
About thirty years ago a phenomenon arose called the Toronto Blessing you may well recall it. Many people welcomed it, others resisted it but what could not be denied was its broad appeal to many different people. At a Presbytery meeting several members were getting hot under the collar, either pro or anti when it was discussed whether Presbytery funds should be used to hire a bus to take people to a rally that was coming up in Aberdeen. The main gist of the anti’s argument was that the Toronto Blessing was not Biblical, eventually my wise old minister, who I have mentioned before, Bob Jones stood up and said we should have a bit of faith in God. If it was God’s will that this new Blessing take over then why should we stand in its way, indeed whatever we chose to do would be futile anyway. On the other hand if it was not God’s will then it would fizzle out eventually. Presbytery agreed to hire a bus!
Anything new is to be tested but so long as it helps us rejoice, pray, keep the good and reject the evil then we can and should live with it, just as the Thessalonians did.
Lord God our loving Father in Heaven, we live in changing times, our values are challenged, our views questioned, help us to keep the good, reject the bad, by giving us wisdom to tell which is which so we may better serve you in our lives.
In your Mercy hear our prayer,