A boy on crutches hurried through the busy station to catch his train. He had a generous basket of fruit and candy his grandmother was sending back for him and his little sister. As other passengers hurried by, one bumped the basket. He hurried right by as soon as he had finished scolding the boy for being in his way, ignoring the fruit rolling across the floor. Another passenger saw what had happened, and quickly began to pick up the fruit. As he replaced it in the basket, he gave the boy a silver dollar with a kind word. He hadn’t gotten far when he realized the boy was addressing him. “Sir, are you Jesus?” “No, I’m only one of His followers.” Could someone mistake you for Jesus by your actions? Learn what 1 Thessalonians 5:11-15 says about how Christians relate to the people around them.
As you come to God's Word to understand and apply it to your life, ask God to open your eyes to its truths, to challenge your life and make you become more like the Lord Jesus.
Read Focus Verses
Read 1 Thessalonians 5:11-15. As you read, notice how many different kinds of relationships are mentioned in these verses.
Today's passage begins with a "therefore clause." In other words, the instructions in today's passage are based on the truths in the preceding text. Read 1 Thessalonians 5:1-15 to better understand the passage you're studying today.
What group of people is this passage primarily addressed to?
A Christian is given guidelines for relating to three specific groups of people in this passage. The first two are: 1. Other Christians and 2. Christian Leaders. What is the third group mentioned in verse 14?
What two ways are Christians commanded to relate to other Christians in verse 11?
How can Christian leaders be identified according to verse 12?
How are Christians to think of their Christian leaders according to verse 13?
What specific instructions are given to Christians as they relate to their leaders according to verses 12-13?
What instructions are they given as they relate to believers in verses 14-15?
How are Christians to relate to all people- believers and unbelievers- according to verses 14-15?
Keyword - Verbs
Marking all the action words in this passage will help you see all the instructions given to Christians in their relationships.
Mark the action words (comfort, edify, know, warn, follow…) in 1 Thessalonians 5:11-15.
What stands out to you as you read just the action words in these five verses?
The Greek word translated comfort or encourage in verse 11 appears ten times in the books of 1 and 2 Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 2:11; 3:2; 3:7; 4:1; 4:10; 4:18; 5:11; 5:14; 2 Thessalonians 2:17; 3:12). Read 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 to see how Christians are to comfort and encourage one another.
Words of Comfort
Why is Christ's return and a Christian's hope of living with Him eternally such a comfort?
Notice who is doing the comforting in 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17.
Who is a Christian like when they comfort and encourage other Christians?
God of Comfort
2 Corinthians 1:3-7 further expands on this idea of Christians being comforted by God and comforting other believers.
Learning to Comfort
How do Christians learn to comfort one another according to these verses?
Take a moment to consider the word translated edify or build up in verse 11. It's the word used in the parable of the wise and foolish builders (Matthew 7:24-27). If you remember that the word edifice means a large, well-established building it will be easy to picture the word edify meaning building each other up and making one another strong.
Origin: from the same as (3619)
- to build a house, erect a building
- to build (up from the foundation)
- to restore by building, to rebuild, repair
- to found, establish
- to promote growth in Christian wisdom, affection, grace, virtue, holiness, blessedness
- to grow in wisdom and piety
Called to Edify
Ephesians 4:12-16 expands on this concept of building each other up and shows us the result of edification among believers.
Words that Build Up
A few verses later, in Ephesians 4:29, Christians are specifically commanded to build each other up with their words.
What are some of the reasons God tells Christians to build each other up?
Verses 12-13 in today's passage instruct Christians in their relationship with their Christian leaders. Notice what 1 Timothy 5:17-18 says about this.
Galatians 6:6 gives a very similar command.
What is a very practical way Christians should honor those who lead the church according to 1 Timothy?
Hebrews 13:7 speaks of another aspect of relating to Christian leaders.
What are Christians supposed to consider before they follow a Christian leader?
The last phrase of 1 Thessalonians 5:13 is very interesting since it commands Christians to be at peace among themselves in the context of loving and respecting their Christian leaders. Hebrews 13:17 explains why these are connected.
Why is it honoring to Christian leaders for the people in their care to live at peace among themselves according to Hebrews 13:17?
Today's passage defines Christian leaders as those who labor among other Christians and admonish them. Notice what Jesus says about this theme of leaders being servants in John 13:12-17.
How do these verses challenge what you think or have been taught about Christian leaders and how Christians should think of and care for them?
Living in Peace
2 Corinthians 13:11 gives Christians another reason to live peacefully with each other.
Matthew 5:9 gives another reason having to do with a Christian's testimony.
Why, according to these verses, are Christians to live at peace among themselves?
Verse 14 gives specific directions for relating with people in different seasons of life. Let's look at some verses which further explain these commands. Start with Colossians 1:28 which explains why Christians are to warn other Christians who are not living according to God's commands.
Save a Soul
James 5:19-20 puts it in even stronger terms.
Receive the Weak
Romans 14:1 commands Christians to receive those who are weak and not cast doubt in the way of their struggling faith.
Ephesians 4:1-3 speaks of the importance of patience in the Christians life.
Patience and Forgiveness
Colossians 3:12-13 tells us forgiveness will be a necessary ingredient to accompany true patience.
A Good Word
Proverbs 15:23 says that a word spoken appropriately at the right time is very good. That is what today's passage is speaking about in verse 14 - choose fitting words for every person in every occasion through every season of their life.
Apples of Gold
Proverbs 25:11 paints a very vivid word picture of the pleasantness of these appropriate words.
Overcome Evil with Good
Romans 12:17-21 expands on verse 15 of today's passage.
A Step Further
The Lord Jesus takes it a step further in Matthew 5:43-48.
1 Peter 3:9 promises a reward to those who live this way.
1 Peter 2:21-23 points us to Jesus Christ who is the ultimate example of this.
3 John 1:11 tells us that habitually doing good or evil is a test which reveals whether a person is a Christian or not.
Why is a Christian supposed to do good to those who are bad to them? Who will take care of justice?
Think About It
Think about it for a minute. Is it better to try to take a little bit of justice into your own hands, or to leave it to God who will take care of it righteously and completely? How can this help someone who struggles with a vengeful or angry spirit?
Christians and All People
Galatians 6:10 also speaks of doing good to Christians specifically and to all people.
Who is a Christian's primary target of kindness and who else do they seek to be good to according to Scripture? Why?
As you studied this passage, what relationships did God challenge you in? What have you been doing that you need to confess and turn from? What do you need to do from now on? How will that look today?
What Christian leaders (pastors, elders, etc.) has God put in your life? How are you going to apply this passage in your relationship with them this month?
The Church and the World
How does putting the right priority on seeking to do good to God's people first and also to the world look in your life? What needs to change?
Overcome Evil with Good
In what ways has God called you to overcome evil with good and leave justice to Him?
We hope this passage has helped you understand how to relate to the different people around you in a Christ-like way.
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