A general rule of hermeneutics is that whenever you see the word therefore, you should look to see what it is there for! In this case, it refers back to Paul’s clear statement that “God did not appoint us to suffer wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thes 5:9) and that “we should live together with Him” (5:10).
Believers will never experience the terror of God’s wrath against unbelieving sinners on the day of judgment and their sentence for eternity in hell.
The first command is to “be continually encouraging one another,” which uses the same word as in 1 Thessalonians 4:18, but here the emphasis is on mutual exhortation. This command is bonded to the second—“be continually building up each other”—which comes from a verb meaning “to construct houses, or erect,” thus to “to establish, edify, make stronger, or embolden.”
The self-centered mind can take the promise of Christ’s imminent return to mean that time is too short to start anything for God. Thus we are exhorted not to “sleep [a metaphor for being useless for the kingdom], as others do, but let us watch and be sober,” always acting in “faith and love, and…hope” (1 Thes 5:8). There are people to love to the cross and unsaved multitudes to guide to salvation who have never heard the gospel once. We cannot quit yet.
To develop this level of mutual commitment to His word and His model of service requires constant encouragement and instruction from everyone to everybody. Human frailty will never cease to need encouragement.
Every day, count the number of times you encourage someone. Then increase that number regularly.
Paul ends this command saying, “as indeed you are doing.” Paul had just written, “We urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more” (1 Thes 4:1) and “You yourselves are taught by God to love one another; and indeed you do so toward all the brethren…But we urge you, brethren, that you increase more and more” (4:9–10). Let Christ’s return interrupt a thousand plans of yours and your church for reaching the lost of this world!
“Lord Jesus, I know I need to help to reach the world with Your message and encourage other believers to follow Your example. Help me to do so with the same loving care You so willingly exhibited to Your disciples.”
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