There is a legitimate cry that has come up from a people that do long to live better, but they don’t know how. Even when they come to church, they are often bombarded with "how-to" formulas that sad to say border on psuedo psychology. Although there are legitimate things you can do to help get your life in order, nothing takes the place of the gospel which is "power of God unto salvation", . In 1Thessalonians 5, the Apostle Paul is talking to new believers who are facing persecution, they need encouragement, they need strength, but they also need how to keep holding fast to God. He explains:
4 We appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, to instruct those who are not in their place of battle. Be skilled at gently encouraging those who feel themselves inadequate. Be faithful to stand your ground. Help the weak to stand again. Be quick to demonstrate patience with everyone. 15 Resist revenge, and make sure that no one pays back evil in place of evil but always pursue doing what is beautiful to one another and to all the unbelievers.
19 Never restrain or put out the fire of the Holy Spirit. 20 And don’t be one who scorns prophecies, 21 but be faithful to examine them by putting them to the test, and afterward hold tightly to what has proven to be right. 22 Avoid every appearance of evil. 1 Thessalonians 5:14-19 (The Passion Translation)
This short passage is jam-packed with sound doctrine. If we dissect it we see some fundamental principles that if we follow, they will help us to stay close to the only One who can grant us a new life.
First of all, Paul urges them to be very careful with encouraging those among them who are not feeling as if they are strong. that is not to say, compromise on how they need to live, but to "skillfully" assist them in understanding that there are some things God does, and there are some things we have to do. Thus we have to have patience, but never compromise the truth to accommodate the weaknesses of our flesh.
Secondly, Paul reminds that they should never seek revenge; to trust the outcome to God. If someone wrongs us. forgive; this is something God can’t do for us, without our permission. And Paul reminds us that it is not only something we do with believers, we must have the same attitude toward unbelievers; always striving to exemplify the love God has shown to us – remembering we also not worthy.
I love the next lines:
"Let joy be your continual feast. Make life your prayer. And in the midst of everything be always giving thanks…".