Online Bible Commentary
Enriching Our Lives
1 Thessalonians 5:16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies. 21 Test all things; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil. (NKJV)
As Paul closes this letter to the Christians at the church in Thessalonica he gives more instructions to them. These instructions are in the form of commands. The literal Greek translation of verses 16-18 is “Always rejoice. Without ceasing pray. In everything give thanks; this for is the will of God in Christ Jesus to you.” These are three separate commands, according to the grammar. They also are linked together as all being the will of God. These would not be commands if we were not capable of doing them, no matter our circumstances.
We cannot, and will not, always be happy. But we can always rejoice and be joyful (v.16). This is because the source and the subject of our joy is the Lord Jesus Christ. He never changes. He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Neither should we change. We should not let our problems steal our joy, for our joy is from the Lord! Joy is unstealable!
We are also commanded to pray continuously, no matter the circumstances. (v.17). Prayer is communion with God. It is essential to getting through the day, along with remaining joyful, giving thanks, and abstaining from sin (v.22).
We should set aside a consistent time each day to pray. Then as we go through our day we should stay in touch with the Lord as things happen.
Prayer is simply talking to God, and listening. His answers may come through the words or actions of fellow Christians, the closing and opening of doors, or that still small voice.
Our Christian friends can be used by God to give us Godly advice. Thank them for their advice, but before acting always confirm their counsel with Scripture.
God never closes a door without opening another. So look for doors opening and closing. Elijah heard that still small voice, that whisper from God (1 Kings 19:12). So stay tuned in.
Christians also are commanded to always give thanks to the Lord, no matter the circumstances (v.18). God works all things together for good for those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose (Ro. 8:28).
Even in the worst circumstance, we know God will work good from it. So we can always give thanks. Romans 8:28 applies only to Christians though, “those called according to His purpose.” Unfortunately, our unbelieving friends cannot claim this promise.
Next we are commanded to not quench the work of the Holy Spirit (v.19). The Holy Spirit is always at work in Christians. He converts and controls us. He interprets and teaches the Bible to us. He guides and directs our actions.
But these works can be quenched by sin. It can be our own sin or it can be the sin of someone else that we allow to influence us. If we sin or allow sin to come in, the work of the Holy Spirit in our life is compromised.
We are also commanded to respect those who speak or write the word of God, the Bible (v.20). Then we are commanded to test their prophecies according to Scripture, and to “hold fast to the good”, the truth (v.21). Even the best intentions of human beings can sometimes be off target. We can correct them in love. But we should stop short of disrespecting their heartfelt efforts.
The final commandment listed here is to abstain from evil (v.22). Sin and evil is the same thing. Jesus hates sin. He endured a horrific death on the cross because of sin. He takes it very seriously, and so should we.
We cannot abstain from sin if we do not read the Bible. The Bible identifies what behavior is sin. We cannot abstain from these behaviors if we do not know what they are.
These are all commands that God expects us to obey. He also realizes that there will be times when we fall short. But our lives are better when we follow His commands. God loves us and gives us these commands for the purpose of enriching our lives.