- The Explore the Bible lesson for April 24 focuses on 1 Thessalonians 5:12-25.
Ministry is hard work; every minister will agree. Ministry is dealing with the best moments of people, from weddings, birth, baptism and—best of all—that moment when a person surrenders their life to Christ. Those moments make the best memories for any minister.
But also, a minister will be present during the worst time in a person’s life. A death, an accident, a fight, a divorce and when a person abandons their faith.
I can say that what has enabled me to remain in ministry for over 23 years is the people God has sent around me to encourage and guide me. Instrumental relationships have surrounded me to help me during the worst times of ministry. I thank God for the family of faith that surrounds my family and me with prayers that encourage me to remain in ministry.
Learning to support those in ministry (1 Thessalonians 5:12-14)
In the conclusion of the first letter to the Thessalonians, Paul encourages believers to pay attention to the personal relationships they have with their church leaders.
In the Hispanic congregations, how we relate to one another is very personal and familial. A person can be immediately welcomed and loved. Hispanic congregations have the tendency to be very loving and accepting, as long as there is no contention. The love and care for a person can run dry quickly. Hispanic congregations need to be loving and caring for their leaders.
In the context of Thessalonica, the church had suffered the death of church members, and leaders had to admonish the church. The exhortation from leaders, if not received well, can cause division and discouragement. We need to learn to support one another in ministry. To accept our wrong doings and develop meaningful relationships.
In the Hispanic congregations, you are a friend or a foe. Personal relationships take time and care. These relationships must be fostered and encouraged to where leaders must be role models of good and healthy personal relationships. Paul suggests the attitude towards leaders should be three-fold in the Lord, in love and in peace. The role of leadership is defined by the measure the weak and fainthearted are considered.
Learning to live in ministry (1 Thessalonians 5:15-19)
Paul introduces guiding principles for believers as they have suffered and could want to seek revenge. Paul teaches the first peacemaking principle—do not retaliate. Retaliation is a fruit of the old nature. Forgiveness certainly is the most difficult way to seek what is good. But it is the most liberating and rewarding way to live in Christ. All meaningful relationships need a portion of forgiveness and grace.
Sadly, strong personal relationships in church are rare because of unresolved issues and the lack of ability to resolve conflict. In the Hispanic church, conflict resolution is not a Bible study or conference theme. Hispanics will use the silent treatment and distance themselves.
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Paul encourages the believer to rejoice all the time. The rejoicing that is produced by the Holy Spirit guides believers to focus on God’s goodness. The believer must be known as a person who is consistently joyful, a person who prays at all times and a person who radiates gratitude for God’s bountiful blessings.
It is sad when people have the perception of Christianity as a religion for angry people. It’s not that Christians have to put up a happy face all the time and stand for nothing. The church needs to stand for biblical principles happily and gracefully.
Our Lord expects us to find his will during praise, worship and adoration, regardless of our circumstance and even when people have wronged us. This takes time by practicing spiritual disciplines. When great things are happening, it is natural and healthy to be happy and content. There are believers who were taught that too much rejoicing is sinful. Believers have the God-given right to display true joy. It is time for believers to be known as people who rejoice in the Lord.
Learning to be ministered to (1 Thessalonians 5:20-25)
Finally, Paul instructs believers in the areas of attitude, obedience and discernment. Paul wants for them to experience the presence of the Holy Spirit and to know God’s will. The context of the instruction to not to quench the Spirit and not despise prophesies comes from the usage of oracles to know the future from the Greek culture. In my context today, it would equal to the fascination of the Hispanic culture for superstitions.
If a person wants to know God’s will, Paul says to give thanks, have joy, listen to God’s word. The prophetic word today is considered the message given my God’s leaders. Their messages should not be despised or ignored but evaluated. The effect of God’s prophetic message would remove anxiety, hate and fear. God’s prophetic word will lead believers toward obedience and peace with God with a good portion of exhortation and rebuke.
Ricardo Brambila, M.Div., is pastor of Primera Iglesia Bautista Dallas and the executive director for West Dallas Community School, a Christian school for boys and girls with limited financial resources in West Dallas.