Encourage One Another and Build Each Other Up

Encourage One Another and Build Each Other Up

1 Thessalonians 4:13 - 5:11

The primary purpose of St. Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians is to provide them with encouragement in the face of opposition and persecution. In this particular passage, St. Paul addresses the Thessalonians to inform them about the condition of the departed and the second coming of Christ. He makes it clear that death and the second coming ought not to be threatening, but a comfort for those who are righteous.

In the selection from Chapter 4, St. Paul clarifies the Christian perspective on death. He says not to “grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope.” (1 Thess. 4:13) but rather to have hope in Christ who will raise them up when He comes again. As Orthodox Christians we should all try to find strength in these comforting words amidst the grief and sorrow of losing or remembering a loved one. This passage is very fitting since the Church commemorated the departed clergy this previous Sunday and will remember all the faithful who have departed in Christ this upcoming Sunday. 

In the portion taken from chapter 5, St. Paul calls us to be vigilant at all times due to the uncertainty of when the end of time will come. The analogy of the approach of “a thief in the night” (1 Thess. 5:2) paints a vivid picture of the unpredictability of when the day of the Lord will come. Therefore, our calling as faithful Christians is to be “alert and self-controlled” (1 Thess. 5:6) at all times. Now this may seem like an overwhelming task, however it is possible if we properly equip ourselves with the full armor of God. St. John Climacus says in his work, The Ladder of Divine Ascent, “Alertness is a quenching of lust, deliverance from fantasies in dreams, a tearful eye, a heart made soft and gentle, thoughts restrained, food digested, passions tamed, spirits subdued, tongue controlled, idle imaginings banished. The vigilant monk is a fisher of thoughts, and in the quiet of the night he can easily observe and catch them.” As the Great Lent approaches, let us also be vigilant and alert in our daily lives and catch our evil thoughts quickly before they overtake us. Let us also encourage one another and build each other up as St. Paul says so that we do not find ourselves alone in this great task.

Reflection Questions:

1.     What are some things that we can practically do to encourage one another? How does this relate to accountability?

2.     Why is vigilance important in our lives? What are some actions we can take to improve our vigilance?