1THESSALONIANS 5:12-28 (NIV – UK)
12 Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you. 13 Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. 14 And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.15 Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else.
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not treat prophecies with contempt 21 but test them all; hold on to what is good, 22 reject every kind of evil.
23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.
25 Brothers and sisters, pray for us. 26 Greet all God’s people with a holy kiss. 27 I charge you before the Lord to have this letter read to all the brothers and sisters.
28 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
DO NOT QUENCH THE SPIRIT
Paul rounds off this letter to the Thessalonian church by giving them instructions of how to live together as brother and sisters in Christ: living in peace, not becoming idle, encouraging the disheartened, helping the weak, being patient with everyone, not paying back wrong with wrong, doing what is good for everyone else, rejoicing always, praying continually, giving thanks in all circumstances (v. 12-18) – it is quite some list!
But we might question whether living like this is realistic! Doesn’t it just go against human nature to live like this? That’s not how we see the world living! In the world we see war, idleness, trampling of the weak, impatience, revenge, looking after number one and grumbling. So why would Paul expect the Thessalonian church to be able to live like this? Perhaps verse 19 gives us the answer: ‘Do not quench the Spirit’. The fallen nature of humanity is unable to achieve the kind of living Paul is looking for, but God can. By the Holy Spirit who dwells in each believer we can begin to see the sinful nature put to death and the goodness that comes from God shine through. The fruits of the Spirit listed in Galatians shows us the kind of extra-human qualities we should begin to see on Jesus’ followers: ‘Love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control’ (Gal. 5:22-23).
So to quench the Spirit’s work in our lives – to deny his good work in us and resist him – is to deny ourselves of any chance of our local church living together as Paul describes. Quenching the Spirit can be as simple as taking away fuel from the fire – not reading our Bibles, not praying, not paying attention when when the word of God is preached, not looking to Jesus and fixing our eyes on him. That is the fuel of the Spirit – and to remove that fuel is to quench him. Matthew Henry says: ‘Believers often hinder their growth in grace, by not giving themselves up to the spiritual affections raised in their hearts by the Holy Spirit.’ We must embrace the affections that the Spirit raises in our hearts towards Jesus and not remain cold and distant from him.
It takes nothing less than throwing ourselves at the feet of Jesus – putting aside all our pride and selfish ambition – and saying ‘come, Jesus, by your Holy Spirit and work your power in me – transform me from the inside out.’ This is a journey we must make as a local church – and if we are to move along we must be sure not to quench the Spirit.
Question: Has the Holy Spirit convicted you of anything in your life recently? What has been your response?