Reading: 1st Thessalonians 5: 16-24
Verse 23: “May God himself… sanctify you through and through”.
Today’s passage is a great conclusion to an epistle letter. It would be hard to say more in so few words. Paul encourages the Thessalonians to be joyful, to pray, to give thanks, to keep the Spirit’s fire burning, to hold onto the good and to avoid evil. Just reading through these words that Paul offers brings encouragement to our faith. But faith is about more than encouraging words. It is also about putting these words in to action.
We really must begin by being faithful in our prayers. We must be very intentional about having an attitude of joy and giving God the praise for the ways that He blesses our lives. To be faithful and intentional we have to have a plan. We cannot just say we will pray every day for example. We must carve out a time and place to come before God each day in a a time of fervent and dedicated prayer. If we do not, it will not happen consistently. We will find ourselves offering up a quick little prayer and hoping that is sufficient for the day.
There will be challenges – that is why Paul encourages us to test everything, to not putout the Spirit’s fire, to hold onto the good and to avoid all evils. We must test all we face and keep the fire burning by reading our Bibles daily, by being regularly present in worship, by being active in a small group. In short, we must tend to our faith. We must put in the work. Now all of this action and work on our part is not all that is involved. It is relatively a small piece, but a piece we must tend to diligently. We are only human. We are limited. But God is not.
Paul writes, “May God himself… sanctify you through and through”. Not just a little, but through and through. All the way. While we must do our part, it is God who does the transforming. It is God who works in us to sanctify us more and more – to make us more and more like Jesus day by day. He works in us to make our “spirit, body, and soul blameless”. And God is faithful. In the end, God will accomplish His purposes for our lives. May we join in the work of the Spirit as we journey through this life, living as humble servants of our God most high. May we trust fully into God’s plans and promises to sanctify us through and through. Amen.