Tools Of The Trade – 1 Thessalonians 5.16-24

In 1 Thessalonians 5.16-24, Paul gives the believers there – and you now – some tools of the trade. He gives them 3 do’s and 2 don’ts. But, why do we go to all this trouble? In vv.23-24 we see why:

Now may the God of peace himself make you completely holy and may your spirit and soul and body be kept entirely blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is trustworthy, and he will in fact do this.

(NET)

To wrap up this letter Paul says, simply, pray for us, greet one another with love, read this letter to everyone, grace be with you (vv.25-28). Let’s think for a moment about what we have been commanded to do in this passage.

About 18 months ago I fell off my bike and broke a bone in my hand and had to wear a cast for quite a few weeks. During that time, for some reason, we thought it would be a good idea to get some new wardrobes(I think we had a guest coming so we needed a bit of extra furniture). Where did we get them from? Ikea of course. However, then I needed to build two wardrobes with one hand, basically, and this was how I felt:

Screenshot 2021-02-25 at 7.40.48 AM

So there’s me, broken hand, wondering how this is going to work, and in come my two little helpers.

3052604-poster-p-1-how-ikea-designs-its-infamous-instruction-manuals

Now, it could be said that they built those wardrobes, because they held some of the tools some of the time. They were shown what to do, but really, I did the work and they did their best. They did what I told them to do but I did the real work and they did their best.

Paul has given us some tools of the trade (vv.16-22): do this, this, and this, don’t do this or that…then he says:

God Himself will make you holy…

God Himself will keep your whole self blameless at the coming of Jesus…

God Himself, who is asking you to do this, is trustworthy, 

God Himself will do this…

So, here is what you need to do, but the burden is not on you, because if it was, you’d fail. Just like my two little helpers – Roman and Jesse – try as they did, they couldn’t have built those two wardrobes without my direct input, my instruction, my guidance, my help, and my rescue when they overreached and tried to do more than they were capable of. I was so happy to help them having seen that they were wanting to get involved. 

As for my boys, my broken hand, and my wardrobes, so it is with you, and me, and us in our spiritual lives with these tools here. We will never achieve this all by ourselves. The real burden and real responsibility here is not on you. Jeremiah spoke for the Lord and said that there was, in the future for him, a new way of relating to the Lord, a new way of being in right relationship with God, and it would no longer be a tremendous burden to the people:

It will not be like the old covenant that I made with their ancestors when I delivered them from Egypt. For they violated that covenant, even though I was like a faithful husband to them…

(31.32, NET)

In this new covenant, this new way of relating to God, He does the work. I read this week that

In all that he told the Christian to do in 1 Thessalonians 4:1 through 1 Thessalonians 5:22, Paul never intended that they do those things in their own power. 

It’s like Paul is saying look,

 “I have been urging you to do certain things, but it is only in God’s strength that you will be able to do them.” 

The same God who calls you to live like this promises to help you along the way (Philippians 1.6). He wants to see you want to be involved.

As my boys wanted desperately wanted to help me build those wardrobes, your Heavenly Father wants to see that you desperately want to live the life He has for you. With your commitment to live this life and His empowering to do so, there is nothing that can stand in your way.

Show Him that you want to be involved, that you want to live this life, that you are doing all you can to love Him by keeping His commands, and then trust that He who calls you is trustworthy, and he will in fact do this (1 Thessalonians 5.24).

Published by James Travis

Pastor of Saar Fellowship in the Kingdom of Bahrain. Married to Robyn and Dad to our two boys.

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