“Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else. Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:15-18
In 1st Thessalonians, Paul is writing to a persecuted church. They are a religious minority: they are slandered, they are beaten, they receive no justice. Many of them are Romans — and Romans had certain rights — but those rights were being thrown away because they were Christian. Paul tells them, “Make sure nobody pays back wrong for wrong.” This is such a message our world needs today, by the way. “But always strive to do what is good for each and for everyone else. Rejoice always. Pray continually. Give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” If there was ever a reason to feel betrayed and to angrily ask God, “Where are you?” This church had that reason. But they didn’t! In fact, Paul is actually speaking out of his own experience. He’s the guy that, when he’s beaten and thrown into prison, begins to sing and rejoice and live with joy. He is joyful, like you. He is thankful, like you. And he is hopeful, like you. The world needs hopeful, positive, joy-filled people like you.
PRAYER: Thank you, God, for never giving up on us. You are there. Help us to see you and to be joyful in all of our circumstances.
REFLECTION: Have you been persecuted before? Were you able to remain joyful?