Paul frequently groups things, sometimes in couplets, sometimes in fours, and other times in triplets. This week, we will look at a few of his triplets to see if there is anything of value for us, 2,000 years and a COVID-19 virus later. Triplets may not always be the most desired arrival to a home, especially if they cry and need to be fed, but hopefully some of these will be encouragement to you.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 we read” Rejoice evermore; pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” It is not often in the 66 books of the Bible, that we have something clearly stated to be the will of God for us. So, this must be worthwhile to consider.
“Rejoice evermore” is his first exhortation. These people were not facing a small deadly virus. They were facing big, nasty men. They were going through a period of persecution. In chapter 3 Paul is so thankful that they are showing their faith by the manner in which they are handling their danger. Now, in chapter 5, he seems to be going a bit beyond that when he tells them, that despite the persecution, they should be rejoicing.
Praise avoids self-pity, that “it feels so good to feel so bad” feeling which lasts about 10 seconds and then goes away, leaving you just as miserable. Rejoice evermore or always means to avoid a grumbling, complaining spirit. Self-pity has pride as its basis. It feels it deserves more than it is getting. Whether in society, work, home, or assembly, avoid negativism as an atmosphere in which you move. We are all in danger of our desires becoming our legitimate “needs,” and feeling we are being deprived.
Prayer avoids self-reliance and independence. Prayer should be an attitude of heart as seen in Nehemiah. Prayer as an expression of dependence. Prayer is the spirit of Worship. Prayer recognizes God as sacred sovereign, sufficient, sympathetic, satisfying. As we face an unseen foe, as we feel the stress of confinement, and for some, of isolation, prayer should remind us that we are never alone.
“In everything, give thanks” may seem difficult to do when you are looking at the inside of your home on day 40. It is difficult to do when you are unemployed, when you are concerned about bills and putting food on the table. Giving thanks means I find something for which to be thankful in every set of circumstances. I am content with every circumstance allowed by God. I recognize that there is something bigger than I am, that there is Someone wiser than I am.
All of this attitude adjustment is lumped together as “the will of God in Christ Jesus” for you and me. I can fulfill God’s will for my life by the way I react to the present circumstances which have blind-sided us for the last 6 weeks. In the midst of listening to the flood of news-streams, reading online all the latest information, and being inundated with figures of today’s numbers, stop and “rejoice, pray, and give thanks.” And don’t forget to wash your hands for 20 seconds!