Mary spent almost an hour on the phone on Monday with a close friend. A devoted leader in our church had just gotten back from Dallas where he and his wife spent the morning meeting with doctors for the report on her comprehensive tests. Hearing the results was tough. Mary was able to come alongside when both Dave and his wife got the wind sucked out of them by the devastating news. This is the kind of intimate family caring the Apostle Paul has been stressing throughout 1 Thessalonians. He can’t tell us enough to keep on pouring out love for one another.
In the first century, the new followers of Christ didn’t transform their world by analyzing and critiquing how bad the Roman culture had become. Their own historians and philosopher did this very well. Instead, the early followers of Christ recognized that without Jesus they were under God’s righteous judgment along with everyone else, but that Jesus died to take the just punishment we all deserve. The believers then proved the reality of their new life by responding to the angry, venomous attacks against them with goodness and love. Rome understood the effectiveness of “you punch me, I’ll punch you back harder.” What captured their attention was the power of no payback, grace, and love.
“Now we are exhorting you, brothers and sisters. Strongly warn those who are out of step with God’s purpose to set them apart for himself, console the depressed, and hold tight to those who are weak in illness. Have a long fuse, be patient towards everyone. See to it that you don’t pay back anyone evil for evil, but instead always pursue the good for one another and for everyone.” 1 Thessalonians 5:14-15
LORD, powerfully pour love and strength into our friends’ lives as they go through this intense time of physical weakness and suffering. Pour strength into their kids and grandkids lives and use this illness to help us to long for Jesus’ coming when he will put an end to this physical suffering.
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