Holding fast to that which is good
David Bahn-Reflections Podcast
We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. 14 And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. 15 See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies, 21 but test everything; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil.
23 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.
25 Brothers, pray for us.
26 Greet all the brothers with a holy kiss.
27 I put you under oath before the Lord to have this letter read to all the brothers.
28 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
– 1 Thessalonians 5:12-28 [ESV]
How do you answer the following question: When it comes to rules, are you…
- …A rule follower?
- …A rule acknowledger?
- …A rule bender?
- …A rule breaker?
- …What rules?
There may be a rule follower in our home. But it’s definitely not me. I acknowledge rules. I often obey them. I sometimes bend the rules. I occasionally break the rules. My moment of true confession. Alas.
I actually do follow the rules most of the time, and in the case of these rules laid down by Paul here, I’d like to think I follow them all the time. “Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil,” he writes.
Two “don’ts” and three “dos.” When the Holy Spirit prompts me to do something, I seek, always to do it. Call a brother or sister who is facing challenging times. Pray with a friend or family member who is suffering. Give toward an urgent need. Speak a word of kindness and encouragement to a disheartened brother. These are the kinds of promptings I seek to follow.
I listen carefully to those who speak for God, and test it against the word of God to see that it is true. I avoid evil to the best of my ability. And therein lies the problem. My feet are made of clay. I’m right there with Paul when he writes, “The good that I would do, I don’t do. And the very evil I hate, I do” (Romans 7:19). I must also admit that God’s word through John (1 John 1:8-9) is true for me, “If we say we are without sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”
When I fail, it’s not because I want to be a rule breaker. It’s because of the weakness of my flesh. I get distracted. I occupy my time with less important or noble things. I don’t slow down enough to recognize the need or sense the prompting of the Holy Spirit. And sometimes I skid right off the runway into the mire of sin.
One earmark of evil is a refusal to acknowledge our own sinfulness. From that we must surely always abstain.
This is why I hold fast to what is good. That would be God and his word. Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his steadfast love endures forever (Psalm 107:1). And we must not ever forget the GOOD NEWS of God’s love shown in Jesus Christ. The prompting of the Holy Spirit will lead us to acknowledge our sin and need for God’s mercy. The prompting of the Holy Spirit will turn us to Jesus for the forgiveness of sins. The prompting of the Holy Spirit will bring us to faith. That’s truly GOOD NEWS. The prompting of the Holy Spirit will move us to share that GOOD NEWS with others whenever the opportunity arises.