Apr 26 2020 1 Thess 5 - How to Be at Peace
26th April 2020
1 Thess 5:12
12 Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who labor among you and preside over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to esteem them most highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves.
Lord, we ask that You would clear our minds that we would focus our minds wholly and solely on You this morning. If there is discouragement, give comfort. There may be some who need to be admonished – we ask that you do that with gentleness and patience. Speak to our hearts, Lord!
Paul makes a shift here – and it is not clear if there is a problem or if he is just giving standard instructions to the church.
Paul does a lot of complimenting and not a lot of correction.
Here is my take. This is a young church – maybe Paul was there for a couple of months – and then goes to where he is writing from – it might be less than 6 months since they have come to Christ.
Paul is doing some gentle correction – as you would do with a young child. He doesn’t want anyone to be overwhelmed, embarrassed, or shamed. He is correcting – that they don’t know better. Kind of like young children who don’t understand yet, so you are gentle with them.
Be at peace among yourselves.
The rest of this passage is about creating peace in relationships.
All churches have conflict. Gasp!
All relationships have conflict! Family! Community! Work! Church! It is naïve to think that because we are a church and everyone loves Jesus, that no one will insult or offend another. Peace is something that must be constantly worked on.
It is a constant work to create peace.
There is another misunderstanding: We can’t be at peace without being in agreement on everything.
Disagreements don’t have to create conflict and disturb peace.
Cindy and I, early in our marriage, felt discouraged that we weren’t often in agreement and felt like we were in conflict! But that kind of thinking hinders peace. The reality – whether it is politics, raising children, health, diet - there are many things we disagree on and we had to learn to create peace.
The key is finding common ground on the areas where we disagree! That sounds odd – but rather than finding full agreement, find common ground.
For example: Money. Finances – it will be really hard for two people to come together and agree on how to spend money – how much to spend on a haircut or clothes! But you can come to an agreement – We need to have a budget! There will be a lot of give and take – but the common ground – it is good to try to stay out of debt. Then focus a goal on that – and it allows you to work – and make the compromises where there are disagreements.
Peace in relationships will always cause us to lay aside a personal opinion or preference. In the church – it will even require us at times – to hold SOME convictions, in reserve – or quietly. To not make issue of SOME Christian convictions. The death and resurrection of Jesus is NOT one of those things to hold quietly –
Diet – there are all kinds of opinions on diet. There are plenty of people who follow certain diets and it is a conviction – and that is great! You can go around and try to convince everyone else to your diet, or you can maintain that conviction quietly. You can live it – you can talk about it with those who are interested – and there is a different there.
We don’t compromise our own personal convictions – but we can’t mistake our convictions as rules for all – but there are things that are NOT rules for all.
Never use your convictions as an excuse for being stubborn! I’ve always believed this – so I will always believe this – even if it is wrong! It is really easy to mistake stubbornness for conviction. IN the church – there are things that are essential to believe – found in the creeds, and the gospels – things that we must hold and not give leeway – hold them LOUDLY we might say.
But there are many things that are non-essential – and those things, we must hold quietly. It is okay to have strong convictions outside of the essentials – as long as we don’t make those rules for everyone. Because it works for you doesn’t mean that is what God wants for someone else.
It is possible – that there was no formally recognized leadership in the church there. In a short time – in Paul’s first missionary journey – Paul preached and left – and Acts tells us – on the next journey – he appointed leaders.
So some people had probably stepped up to the plate to take leadership responsibility –
When leadership ordination was simply recognizing what was already happening. It is easy to focus on title and position – but what Paul did – it was about the person and the work and the titles and position came later.
With some stepping up into a leadership role, there were probably others saying – who died and made you king!
We see in Scripture – some who were leading with an authoritarian approach – and Paul was saying – lead by serving. In the world, those who ruled did so with intimidation and power – but Jesus said, not so among you – be the servant – a slave – the youngest – the last, the least. We think – no, we’re the greatest because we reached this position – and Jesus said – it has to be different among you.
1 Thess 5:14 Be at peace among yourselves. 14 And we urge you, brothers and sisters, admonish the undisciplined, comfort the discouraged, help the weak, be patient toward all.
You have a responsibility to keep peace! Things they may have struggled in – to keep peace, there are those you have to correct – BUT – you have to do it with patience. Correct those who oppose you with patience and gentleness, Paul told Timothy. It is easy for those in power to be harsh – we see it all the time – they need to be the ones who are the most gentle of all as they lead and correct.
Then to those who are struggling – be patient with them and comfort and help. Patience – that means it takes time – people in leadership can be so focused on doing things for God and his kingdom that we become unaware of the needs of the people we are leading and focusing too much on the goal.
If you find yourself frustrated with people because of their struggles – there is a good chance you are impatient. How many times do I have to tell you this?!
Be at peace among yourselves…
15 See that no one pays back evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good for one another and for all.
Peace is dependent upon our response to being insulted or offended – not on never being insulted or offended!
Relationships come with insults, injuries, and wounds! Count on it! It is a reality of relationships in our broken world! Don’t retaliate – learn how to not retaliate – you have heard it said – an eye for an eye – but turn the other cheek! Do good – pray for those who hurt you! That is so different from the natural way we think
In order to do it the way that Jesus and Paul say – it is imperative to acknowledge that we offend others every bit as much as they offend us.
I’m talking about typical offenses - not abusive relationships. In abusive relationships, the abuser will try to get the victim to blame themselves.
But in typical relationships – we all step on toes and say things that hurt. And how we respond is most important.
If we are always paying back – that is why relationships are the way they are – nations fighting nations for years – and that cycle needs to be broken.
I have one more verse to read – 1 Peter 3:9
Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.
I urge you today – as we close the message – seek peace, and pursue it!