Give Support, Confidence, and Hope

Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11

The recent newspaper article focused on the next pandemic that was coming. It warned that there would be a crisis of mental health including substance abuses, and severe depression as a result of the social isolation and economic fallout. Loneliness, sadness, and depression as a result of lack of social contact and introspection is happening . . . and as you are reading this you may be thinking, “yep, this is me.” If not you, then there are others to be sure.

Changes in life cause us stress. Imposed changes are greater stressors. For many of us, we are experiencing multiple changes all at once and trying to find our footing in every way, including emotionally and spiritually.
The verse above is found in the context of describing the final days of this earth during which people will be

 “. . . saying, “Peace and safety!” then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape.” (1 Thes. 5:3

Compared to the traumatic events and dramatic changes of those coming days, our current situation is like a cozy tea party. (Take a moment to read 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11)
The words of 1 Thessalonians 5:11 are addressed to the followers of Jesus, instructing us what to do when faced with these types of things. What we are to do is not what we would do by nature and actually it is somewhat counter-intuitive to what we would think we should do.

Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.”

Notice the last phrase in the verse emphasizes that we keep doing what we have been doing. Over the last few weeks I have repeatedly encouraged people to remember that God is in control and that our purpose as a church and individuals has not changed . . . and will never change. No matter what happens in our lives or around us, as long as God gives us breath we are to glorify God by being a follower of Jesus and by making followers of Jesus. Exactly how we accomplish that function may change, but the purpose and function does not change.
Part of making disciples is helping people to grow to be like Jesus - “build up one another.” I am praying that the unsettling of our “norm” will cause us to think about how we can build up one another in new ways . . . and that these new ways will continue when we are able to meet together again.

The other command in 1 Thes. 5:11 is to encourage one another. The word translated encourage means to come alongside to help, comfort, aid or even to correct or rebuke. The idea is that someone can be benefited in some way as we provide assistance. It would be like someone having a broken foot and we come alongside and help them move from the couch to the table.

So when changes, even difficult changes come, we are to keep on building up and encouraging one another. As is says in Hebrews 10:25

 “. . . encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” 

With each passing day the end is drawing nearer, of this we can be sure although we do not know the time or the hour. Therefore with each passing day we should be more and more encouraging to one another.
Now let's bring this full circle. If we focus on ourselves, our own problems or plights, it leads us to being sad and maybe even depressed. However, if we are obedient to God to think more highly of others than ourselves (Philippians 2:1-11) we will find that we are greatly encouraged ourselves as we seek to serve and encourage others.

God's remedy for our glum and despair is to keep things in an eternal perspective and to devote ourselves to serving and encouraging one another. When we do so God is faithful to lift our own spirits as well. So, at the risk of being redundant . . .

Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.”

May you know the grace and peace of the Lord Jesus as you encourage others.

Serving with peace,

Pastor Jeff

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