“Discourage one another and tear each other down, just as in fact you are doing.” Now that’s a verse that is NOT in the Bible but might be accurately written about the conduct of some people who live destructively. Did you know that the Apostle Paul wrote to one group of Christians and noted ‘…your meetings do more harm than good…. I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you…”
The contrast between the church in Corinth and the church in Thessalonica could be not better stated. Both were Greek-speaking congregations. Both had been established by a prominent first Century apostolic leadership team. Both had access to the same spiritual resources through Jesus Christ, the only Mediator between God and people, but the similarities may well have ended there.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 is encouraging and as spiritually instructive for the 21st century as it was for the 1st! There are some congregations more like Corinth than Thessalonica.
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” Would any Christian pastoral leader write that about your spiritual family?
Some individuals pride themselves on their distinctiveness. They spend their energy and time always destroying anyone who dares to disagree with them even on the most minute theological point. Some churches seem to be infected with a spiritual ‘flesh-eating’ disease where their meetings do more harm than good.
Paul’s instruction in I Thessalonians 5:11 is a challenge and a blessing. Though obedient already, the Thessalonian believers should continue to follow this instruction. Obedience encourages obedience, does it not? Leaders have the awesome task of guiding entire congregations in pathways of obedience. They are called to issue warnings, provided their instruction is biblically rooted and spoken in love. (The ‘speaking the truth in love’ is no easy pathway to navigate.)
I wonder, as you gather with God’s people across this nation or in any other location, will you be an encourager? Will anyone nickname you ‘The Son of Encouragement,’ as they nicknamed Joseph in Acts 4. Barnabas received his ‘new’ name because of his conduct. He remained an encourager throughout the pages of Acts, an up-close-and-personal look at the early church.
At yesterday’s conference two leaders spoke words of encouragement into my life. I scarcely know one of them, but in our interaction over the last few months, this man has in his unique way been following I Thessalonians 5:11. May his tribe increase!