Some scripture is like a sledgehammer. Powerful, simple, and strong; able to smash through every and any excuse.
When I read 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 I am reminded of a sledgehammer. It states:
“Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
These verses hit me like a sledgehammer because I can’t hide behind a wall of excuses. The passage is so clear, I can’t pretend I don’t understand it. I can’t pretend that my circumstance negates the command of this passage. I am supposed to rejoice, pray and give thanks in a comprehensive way.
No qualifications, no loop holes, no excuses; God wants me to relate to him in a way that is categorized by joy, dependance and thanks. How do we do that? We will see how a triple whack from a sledgehammer verse like this never felt so good, and when our excuses are torn down we can be built up by God’s grace.
Rejoice Always, In Everything
The comprehensiveness of the verse is part of it’s strength. When the bible says everything, well it means everything. Here is a list of what it doesn’t say:
- Rejoice in everything except your boss treating you poorly.
- Rejoice in everything except your spouse doing something that is hurtful.
- Rejoice in everything except your children disrespecting you.
- Rejoice in everything except your plans not working out.
- Rejoice in everything except ___________________.
Fill in a situation you are going through and feel the power of the sledgehammer.
It is not surprising that prayer is right in between rejoice always and give thanks in everything. Prayer helps us refocus our attention on the truth of who God is, and this passage says it is supposed to be a regular and consistent aspect of our life.
When he says without ceasing, that doesn’t mean every second of every day, it means regularly and consistently. Prayer means I have to take time away from my concerns and be concerned about viewing God rightly and rejoicing in who He is and what He has done.
What are our normal excuses for prayer?
- I’m too busy
- I don’t know what to say
- What is the point it won’t change anything
- I am too sinful for God to answer my prayer
God knows our excuses and he commands us to relate to Him with continual prayer. He breaks down our walls so that we can draw close to Him in dependence; and, when we see our need for Him and His provision, we can begin to rejoice always as we understand His will.
There is a certainty in this verse that is strong. Many times we ask, “what is God’s will for my life?” This passage provides a very clear answer. God’s will is for me to rejoice, pray and to give thanks.
God wants me to live a life of rejoicing and, if I am not, there needs to be an adjustment in my thinking. God has revealed His will and He is going to equip me to fulfill His will.
If we are responding to our circumstances with bitterness, a desire for vengeance, anger or despair…well our will has been thwarted, yet God’s will for us to rejoice still stands.
So how do we do that, how do we actually rejoice, always and in everything?
I am not thankful for someone speaking to me in a curt way. I do not like things on my car breaking and costing me time and money, and I really don’t like making mistakes that make me look foolish.
I am thankful for being in Christ so that I can view those situations through the grid of God’s will for me in Christ. In other words, I can rejoice in each of those situations because it is an opportunity for me to become more like Christ and reevaluate how I view Christ.
It challenges me to ask if Jesus is enough for me to rejoice in. I have a secure relationship with the creator and sustainer of the universe who redeemed me and loves me and wants me to mature in Him. That is enough to rejoice in even if everything else doesn’t go how I would like.
Being “in Christ” is sufficient grounds to rejoice always, to pray without ceasing, and to give thanks in everything.
I pray that this verse “sledgehammers” excuses in your life, and leads you to build on the strong foundation of Christ.