Lesson 21: WITH CONCERN FOR ONE ANOTHER (1Thess. 5:14-15) - Part 2 (series: Lessons on 1 Thess.)

by John Lowe
(Woodruff, S.C.)

(5:15) MAKE SURE THAT NOBODY PAYS BACK WRONG FOR WRONG, BUT ALWAYS STRIVE TO DO WHAT IS GOOD FOR EACH OTHER AND FOR EVERYONE ELSE.


MAKE SURE THAT NOBODY PAYS BACK WRONG FOR WRONG,
What Paul is saying here is simply this: “See that no believer renders unto anyone evil in return for evil. It takes grace to return good for evil, but believers are saved by grace, and the grace that saves also teaches that we should live righteously and godly in this present world.”

The Thessalonians to whom these words were addressed were themselves in no easy situation. Subjected to constant harassment from both Jew and Gentile, they could easily have become embittered. But it was while they were in this situation that they were called on to render to no one evil for evil. The great precepts of the Christian faith have always been addressed not only to those who find them easy to keep but to all. And they can be kept, because along with the command God provides the power.

The noblest retaliation is good returned for evil. In the worst person, there is some element of goodness, that may summon from him the desire to do good. Our charity should be as large as an enemies’ malice (Matt. 5:44, 45){d]. That which is good is not always that which is pleasing to the objects of our charity, nor is it always pleasing to us. Goodness should be sought for its own sake. It is the great aim and business of life. Goodness is essentially diffusive; it delights in multiplying itself in others. It is undeterred by provocation; it conquers the most powerful opposition.

It is easy to be well disposed toward those who treat us well, but it is the essence of the Christian attitude that agape, self-giving love, be practiced toward all, even the unkind and vindictive. Our Master, for our salvation, endured patiently the insults and the injuries of wicked men. He, the Just, died for the unjust. In both these ways, His example is important for His people. As the servant is not greater than his lord, we must expect the same kind of treatment, and therefore, we must expect to be called on to show the same kind of patience under provocation. And since He came to die for sinful people, we must expect that our meekness is to be by way of ministering to the needs of the sinful also.

This expression “MAKE SURE THAT NOBODY PAYS BACK WRONG FOR WRONG” certainly reproduces the teaching of Jesus (Matt. 5:44){d], and He fully exemplified it in His life (1 Peter 2:23){e].

In Romans 12:19-21 Paul said, “Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord. “BUT IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM, AND IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK; FOR IN SO DOING YOU WILL HEAP BURNING COALS ON HIS HEAD.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” This is the teaching of Christ in Matthew 5:38-48 in His sermon on the mount, and 1 Peter 2:18-25 also admonishes us against returning evil for evil.

“BUT ALWAYS STRIVE TO DO WHAT IS GOOD FOR EACH OTHER AND FOR EVERYONE ELSE.”
The statement, “STRIVE TO DO WHAT IS GOOD” means follow―not by imitation―but by way of aim and pursuit.

The good here is that which benefits the fellowman. It follows, and is closely associated with, the command, “MAKE SURE THAT NOBODY PAYS BACK WRONG FOR WRONG.” We might say it this way, “Christians, always make the good of your fellow man your aim; do not let the unworthiness and carelessness on their part turn you aside from it.”

The positive exhortation, “STRIVE TO DO WHAT IS GOOD” must refer to acts of love in the face of hostility rather than to ethical goodness in general. At the same time, it should be noted that the term is a broad one. Paul is not simply saying, “Do little deeds of love when you might be expected to retaliate.” He is laying down goodness in the face of provocation as a great general principle that must underlie the conduct of Christians at all times.

It is not enough to just avoid retaliation; all resentment is to be extinguished by the love that eagerly seeks to repay evil with good. Because if they would not be overcome with evil, they must overcome evil with good (Rom. 12:19-21){f].

Special notes and Scripture
[a} The address “BROTHERS” shows that these words are directed to the entire membership and not simply to the leaders. The basis for this supposition is:
1. In verse 12 the brothers seem to be distinguished from “those . . . who are over you in the Lord.”
2. Just as verse 12 is addressed to the whole church (not simply to the leaders), so is this verse. The content of the command is to look to the needs of certain people in the church. While this would be in a special measure the responsibility of those holding office, it was also something that lay on the shoulders of all (perhaps it was something the leaders should lead others to do). It was (and is) characteristic of the Christian understanding of life that the entire brotherhood is charged with responsibility for all. For Christians, care for others is not to be left to any special class of believers.
[b} “and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you, so that you will behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need” (1 Thess. 4:11-12).
[c} “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.” (1 Thess. 5:12)
[d} “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matt.5:44-45).
[e} “When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:23).
[f} “Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord. BUT IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM, AND IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK; FOR IN SO DOING YOU WILL HEAP BURNING COALS ON HIS HEAD.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:19-21).

Click here to post comments

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to John Lowe Sermons.

© 2008-2019 - All rights reserved.

No content on preachology.com may be printed or

copied to any other site without permission.

The Preaching Ezine

Click Here!

Subscribe to my free newsletter for monthly sermons and get a free book right now. Just follow the link above and get the details!


Ministry Leads

Click Here!

Anybody else want more leads and prospects for your Church, Ministry, or School, as well as, a means to follow up and communicate automatically?
Just follow the link above and get the details!


YOUR PAGES:


Your Web Page:
Want your own sermon web page? You can have one!
Your Outlines:
Share YOUR skeleton outlines.
Your Illustrations:
Share YOUR Illustrations.
YOUR SERMONS:
Encourage other ministers
by sharing
YOUR great sermons!
Your Poems:
Encourage us all
by sharing
YOUR great poems!