Build up one another

 

 

[1 Thessalonians 5:11-15]

 

 

The promise the Lord has given to our church is '...  I  …  will build my church ... " (Mt. 16:18).  Victory Presbyterian Church is the Lord’s church and the church that the Lord builds.  As the Lord builds His church, we must all devote ourselves to participate in the Lord’s building His Church with each of our gifts and talents.  The mission of our church is to ‘Build His church and His Kingdom.’  And our vision is to "Raise the leaders!”  We want to raise the Christ-centered visionary leaders and send them away to expand the Kingdom of God.  May the Lord raise His servants and fulfill His will through His body, His church.

 

In 1 Thessalonians 5:11, Apostle Paul wrote to the Thessalonian church saints, “Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.”  The Bible speaks of three virtues: (1) the virtue of man's character (Phil. 4:8), (2) the virtue of God (1 Pet. 2:9; 2 Pet. 1:3), and (3) the virtue of building a person or community (1 Cor. 14:3-5, 12, 17, 26) (Internet).  In 1 Thessalonians 5:11, the virtue that Paul spoke about was the third one which was the virtue of building the person or the community.  In other words, Paul exhorted the Thessalonian church saints to build up the virtue of the church.  As an example, Paul exhorted the Corinthian church saints “Let all things be done for edification.”  Here, "all things" refers to the gifts that God had given to the Corinthian church saints.  Listen to what Paul said to them: “But one who prophesies speaks to men for edification and exhortation and consolation.  One who speaks in a tongue edifies himself; but one who prophesies edifies the church.  Now I wish that you all spoke in tongues, but even more that you would prophesy; and greater is one who prophesies than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may receive edifying” (vv. 3-5).  Here, the word “edification” in Greek means 'to build a house'.

 

Have you ever seen the process of builders building a house?  I read an internet article under the heading ‘10 points for building a decent house’ (Internet).  In the article, the writer of the article said that among the 10 points for building the decent house, the first one is the design and the design is the half of building the house.  In other words, a good design is half of a good house.  And the point I was interested in wast the eighth point: ‘The house is where people live.’  The writer's argument is that the house should be safe and comfortable for people to live in.  And he said that the builders should build the house thinking that my family will live in this house.  When I thought about the first and eighth points out of the 10 points to build the decent house, I remembered my friend who is an architect.  My friend helped me and my wife to design a guest house where my mother-in-law will live (since my father-in-law passed away in the process of building it).  He really put his heart, energy, time and so on to design the beautiful guest house.  So I asked him why he put so much into it.  And he said because he considered me as his older brother that is family.  In other words, he designed the guest house considering me as his older brother and my wife as his sister-in-law.  We are just thankful.  Besides building our guest house, when I think about building a house, I remember marking out a pillar around its bottom with a gauge for chiseling for building a traditional Korean-style house.  The first thing the constructors usually do when they build the traditional Korean house is to place a main prop.  Here, the main prop refers to a stone under the pillar.  When they put the main prop, then they put the pillar on the main prop.  However, there is one process that must go through when setting up the pillar on the main prop.  It is difficult to put the pillar on the main prop, even if they choose the stone that is wide and flat.  If they want to put the pillar on the main prop, they have to do a line work so that the surface of the foundation stone and the surface of the pillar fit well.  The method of marking out the pillar around its bottom with the gauge for chiseling is simple.  It is to cut and polish the face of the pillar and then put it on the foundation stone.  It isn’t to grind the foundation stone, but to always trim the surface of the pillar that is built on it and then match it with the foundation stone.  The standard is not the pillars, but the foundation stones.  And the better they do this, the safer and stronger the house will be (Internet).  Here, I thought about spiritual marking out the pillar around its bottom with the gauge for chiseling.  It is to conform our lives to the words of the Lord who is the Rock (Mt. 7:24).  In other words, it is to do the will of our Heavenly Father instead of just crying out "Lord, Lord" (v. 21).  The important thing here is that the standard of our lives is the Lord and the Lord's will, just as the standard of the tradition Korean house is not the pillar but the foundation stone.  That means that as the pillar matches the foundation stone and not other way around, we must conform our will to the Lord’s will instead of Lord’s will to our will.  As the disciples of Jesus Christ, we must live according to the will of the Lord upon the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

 

What is the will of the Lord?  In 1 Thessalonians 5:11, the Lord's will is to build the body of the Lord His church.  Then, how shall we build the Lord’s church as His disciples?  I meditated on the three main points based on 1 Thessalonians 5:12-15. 

 

            First, we should esteem those who have charge over us and give us instruction very highly in love.

 

Look at 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13: “But we request of you, brethren, that you appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction, and that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Live in peace with one another.”  I read one of the Korean internet articles that talked about the most respectable people in 30 fields (Internet).  Among those 30 fields my interest was on the most respected people in Korean Protestant church.  The first place was Pastor Paul Cho, a retired pastor of Full Gospel church, the second place was Pastor Han hum Ok, a retired pastor of Love church who passed away, the third place was Pastor Sam-Hwan Kim, a retired pastor of Myung-sung church, the fourth place was pastor Kyeong-jik Ham, a retired pastor of Young Rak church who passed away and the fifth place was pastor Young Joo Ha, a retired pastor of All Nations church who passed away.  As I was reading the results of this survey, I thought of two things.  One thing was that the most respected people in Korean Protestant church were the large church pastors.  There was no pastor from the small churches or even from the medium size churches who were unknown to the public.  So I thought that the survey was just a survey.  Another thing that came to my thought was the among the most respected pastors in Korea, the Korea medias talked negative about the couple of them because of what they done.  So when I think about this, I am not sure what is the point of being respected by people.

 

In 1 Thessalonians 5:13, Apostle Paul wrote to the Thessalonian church saints: “and that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Live in peace with one another.”  Here, Paul was talking about those who diligently labor among the Thessalonian church saints who had charge over them in the Lord and gave them instruction (v. 12).  He exhorted them to esteem them very highly in love and live in peace with one another.  When I think about esteeming the church leaders very highly in love, I remembered 1 Timothy 5:17 – “The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching.”  Here, “The elders who direct the affairs of the church” and “those (elders) whose work is preaching and teaching” refer to the kinds of elders in the church.  And the two kinds of elders are "Teaching Elder" (TE) and "Ruling Elder" (RE).  And here the "teaching elder" refers to pastor and the "ruling elder" refers to the elder whom we know.  What Paul said is we need know that the teaching elder and the ruling elder are “worthy of double honor, especially, those whose work is preaching and teaching” (v. 17).  Not only do we need to honor the church elders, but we also need to love them.  Now the question is how can we love them?  Look at John 14:21 – “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.”  From this word, we can know what we should love our church leaders, that is we should obey them.  If we truly love our church leaders, we should obey them.  One more thing that Paul encouraged the Thessalonian church saints to do was to live in peace with one another (1 Thess. 5:13).  Although it seems that Paul was exhorting the Thessalonian church saints to live in peace with their church leaders, I think he exhorted the church saints to live in peace with one another.  The reason why Paul exhorted them to do so was because that was the way how they could express their love and respect to their church leaders.  Just as children express their respect and love to their parents by loving each other and living peace with each other.

 

It seems to be a time when it is not easy for us to find church leaders whom we can respect and honor.  If I ask you, 'Do you have a pastor you respect and honor?’ can you say ‘yes’?  I think it is a blessing for you to have a beloved church leader or bible teacher whom you really love and respect.  I hope and pray that we all love and honor those who guide and teach us in obedience to the word of God and in serving the Lord.

 

Second, we must be patient with everyone.

 

Look at 1 Thessalonians 5:14 – “We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone.”  It was Friday when I went to exercise at the YMCA, I saw this writing in a picture frame hanging on the wall: “A lie has speed; but the Truth has endurance.”  After I read this writing and reflected myself, I remembered that I speedily left the word of God, disobeyed His word and committed sin against God after Wednesday night prayer meeting.  That was why I couldn’t help myself but to acknowledge the saying that “A lie has speed.”  But even next day Thursday, before Morning Prayer, I committed sin against God in my thoughts and emotion because I was angry at someone even though I knew in my mind that I had to love him.  In this way, I was deceived by Satan's lies in my thoughts.  And when I was sinning in my thoughts by falling into Satan's deceit and lie, I saw myself not only sinning speedily but also my patience was depleted rapidly.  It was scary work of Satan.  When I realized it, I confessed my sins to God and to my church members who came to that Morning Prayer.  And when I was praying alone, after everybody left, I asked God to deliver me from the Satan’s deceit and lie.  I went to God just as I was, had fallen to Satan’s deceit and lie and committed sins against God, and asked for help.  And that night I got answer of my prayer.  I experienced God's deliverance.  God led me to the light of truth, who was afflicted with lies.  Because God freed me from lies and sins, my heart was in peace.  I was no longer writing a Satan’s letter in my head.  Rather, I was writing a letter of God's love in my heart.  And as I was writing the letter of God’s love, I became more committed to love.  I committed myself to understand others little more and comfort them a little more.  God helped me to renew my commitment to be patient a little bit more, knowing that there is patience in the truth.

 

We know from 1 Corinthians 13:4 that “Love is patient.”  Although we know this truth, there are many times that we are not patient with our beloved family members.  There are times when anger arose in us so that we don’t forgive them because we got hurt from them.  What should we do?  This is what God said to Moses in Numbers 14:11, 27: “…  How long will these people treat me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the miraculous signs I have performed among them?  …  How long will this wicked community grumble against me? I have heard the complaints of these grumbling Israelites.”  In thinking about the Israelites, God repeated “How long …” three times to Moses.  At the time of Exodus, the Israelites repeatedly sinned against God.  They supposed to give thanks to God for what He had done for them such as, guiding them, protecting them, providing them and so on.  But instead they repeatedly grumbled and complained.  They even offered the prayer of complains in crying.  When God saw it, God said to Moses and Aaron, “How long will this wicked community grumble against me?” (v. 27)

 

                Our God is a long-suffering God.  Here the word “long-suffering” is composed with “pain” and “patience” (Wayne Stiles, "Waiting on God").  God sees and knows that we keep on sinning against Him, and that He keeps on long-suffering with us.  Can you imagine a long-suffering God who sees and knows we keep sinning against Him?  Jesus suffered all sorts of suffering and died on the cross.  When He cried out on the cross ‘My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?’ Father God heard His cry.  How long must God be patient with us who keep sinning against Him?  When we realize the God’s patience with us, shouldn’t we also be patient with our neighbors?

 

In 1 Thessalonians 5:14, Apostle Paul wrote to the Thessalonian church saints: “We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone.”  In this passage, Paul exhorted the Thessalonian church saints four things in order to build the church's virtue:

 

(1)   Paul urged the Thessalonian church saints to admonish the unruly.

 

Look at 1 Thessalonians 5:14 – “We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly ….”  The Bible Proverbs talks about the lazy many times (Prov. 10, 12, 13, etc.), and the point is that the lazy will become poor.  The reason for this is that the lazy person doesnt diligently work.  He is poor because he works with a negligent hand (10:4).  In a word, the lazy person refuses to work with his hands (21:25).  Still, he makes problems.  How does he makes problems?  Look at 1 Timothy 5:13 – “Besides, they get into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house. And not only do they become idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying things they ought not to.”  The lazy person goes about from house to house and says thing he ought not to.  In other words, a lazy young widow makes problems by going about from house to house and gossips and busybody, saying things she ought not to.  These were people like this in the Thessalonian church.  They weren’t busy but busybodies (2 Thess. 3:11).  They liked to meddle in others' work and thus stirred up the problems in the church.  And they didnt practice brotherly love because they took taxes (money) from certain brothers in the church for the necessities of their own daily life.  That was why Paul told the Thessalonian church saints to "admonish the unruly."  We must all be diligent.  The Bible says, "not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord" (Rom. 12:11).  I hope and pray that all of us will be diligent, not idle, but zealous and serve the Lord.

 

(2)   Paul urged the Thessalonian church saints to encourage the fainthearted.

 

Look at 1 Thessalonians 5:14 – “We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, ….”  Last week I read an article about precious encouragement than complementary.  In this article, the word ‘courage’ in the word ‘encouragement’ means ‘a willingness to make an effort.’  So encouragement means make someone to be willing to make the effort pr willing to try something.  On the other hand, discouragement is what makes this willingness to disappear.  In fact, encouragement is a word of courage, and it is to increase the will to challenge the future (Internet).

 

Among the brothers and sisters in the church, we will not worry about those who are strong hearts.  The reason is because those with strong heart will be able to overcome any kinds of difficulties and hardships by being strong and courageous.  But those who are weak in heart will be afraid and anxious in adversity and hardship.  What they need is encouragement.  The Scripture Hebrews 10:24 tells us to "consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds”.  We should consider one another.  And when we see fellow brothers and sisters in Christ who do the Lord’s work in loving others and doing good deeds, we should encourage them instead of criticize them.  I personally think that the word ‘I am glad I don’t get criticize for the good work shouldn’t be applied to us, Christians.  Why do we criticize and say bad things about those who are doing the Lord’s work faithfully?  Not so.  We should encourage them to work harder by complimenting them that they did a good job.  I think even though it seems to us that they didn’t do good job, we shouldn’t gossip about about them.  The Lord will judge.  Our role should be comforting and encouraging them with the mindset of "You can do better next time."

 

(3)   Paul urged the Thessalonian church saints to help the weak.

 

Look at 1 Thessalonians 5:14 – “We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak ….”  When we look at the people in the church who are weak physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, not only that we should pray for them but also we need to encourage them and help them.  How can we help them?  Of course, we should pray for them that God may hold them and help them and strengthen them.  What is important, however, is that we can also help those who are weak by sharing the word of God with them.  This is because the Word of God can encourage them, comfort them and strength them.  The powerful word of God can restore them and revival them who are weak.

 

(4)   Paul urged the Thessalonian church saints to be patient with everyone.

 

Look at 1 Thessalonians 5:14 – “We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone.”  We must be patient with everyone in order to build the church.  The Bible James 5:10 says, “Brothers, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.”  When we apply this word to us, we need to make the ancestors of faith who were patient in their sufferings as our examples to follow.  At the same time we must learn the patience of the farmer.  Look at James 5:7 – “Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord's coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains.”  With this farmer's patience we need to deal with each other.  Just as the farmer plants seeds, we should plant seeds of love.  And just as the farmer waits patiently for fruit, we should also wait patiently for the fruit of love.  When we wait patiently for the fruit of love, there can be conflicts because of our differences.  In such situation of conflict, we shouldn’t be angry with the brothers and sisters in Christ who are made in the image of God.  We must be patient with them.  Look at Proverbs 19:11 – “A man's discretion makes him slow to anger, And it is his glory to overlook a transgression.”  In particular, we must learn the God’s patience toward us.  See what Paul said about the God’s patience toward him in 1 Timothy 1:16 – “But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.”  As God displayed His unlimited patience toward Paul, God is now displaying His unlimited patience toward us.  As we learn His unlimited patience, we must be patience with others as well.  In doing so, the Lord's church can be firmly established in the midst of reconciliation.

 

Third and last, we must always seek after that which is good.

 

How shall we live as Christians in this world where good and evil coexist?  I personally like Romans 12:21 –“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”  We must suffer for doing good than doing evil because that is God’s will.  Look at 1 Peter 3:17 – “It is better, if it is God's will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.”  Although our soul forlorn when they repay us evil for good (Ps. 35:12), we should never be tire of doing what is good (2 Thess. 3:13).  We must turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it (Ps. 34:14).

 

Look at 1 Thessalonians 5:15 – “See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people.”  In this passage, Paul urged the Thessalonian church saints two things:

 

(1)   Paul urged the Thessalonian church saints not to repay another with evil for evil.

 

Look at 1 Thessalonians 5:15 – “See that no one repays another with evil for evil ….”  Of course we must not do evil to our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ in our church.  But we must not do evil to the people who are outside of our church as well.  The reason is because we are created in Christ Jesus to do good works (Eph. 2:10).  But the problem is when someone outside the church or even in the church has done us evil.  What should we do then?  The Scripture tells us not to repay evil for evil (1 Thess. 5:15, Rom. 12:17).  Although other person has done evil to us, we should not do evil to him.  Rather the Bible says, “not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead” (1 Pet. 3:9).  The reason is because we are called for the very purpose (v. 9).  We must bless him.  We must even bless who did evil to us.  The purpose is so that we may inherit a blessing (v. 9).

 

(2)   Paul urged the Thessalonian church saints to always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people.

 

Look at 1 Thessalonians 5:15b – “…  but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people.”  How is this possible?  How can we seek good for all people?  Here, I am sure "all people" includes those who have done harm to us, including those who have done us evil.  Then how can we seek good for such people?  I looked up Genesis 50:20 for the answer: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”  Because Joseph understood God’s sovereign will that even his older brothers intended to harm him, but God intended it for good to accomplish His good purpose through him, he reassured them that he would provide for them and their children and spoke kindly to them (v. 21).  In a word, because Joseph tasted the goodness of God (Ps. 34:8), he was able to do good to his older brothers who tried to harm him.

 

                Like Joseph, if we taste the goodness of God, we can also do good to those who try to harm us.  When we understand and believe that God intends it for good to accomplish His sovereign good will through us, not only that we can truly forgive them but also we can do good to them.  Like Joseph, who forgave his brothers and did good to them, we should always seek good not only for our family members but also for our church members as well.  As we believe that God is good, His will toward us is always good (Rom. 12:2) and know that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have called according to his purpose” (8:28) and taste His goodness (Ps. 34:8), we will be able to always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people (1 Thess. 5:15).

 

Victory Presbyterian Church is the Lord’s church and the church that the Lord is building.  The Lord commands us to build one another.  We must humbly obey and participate in the Lord's work of building His church.  As we do so, we must strive to build each other up according to the Lord’s will.  We should esteem those who have charge over us and give us instruction very highly in love.  Also, we must admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone.  We must always seek good.  May the Lord use us as His instruments and continue to build His Church.