One of the hallmarks of Paul’s Epistles is his propensity for lengthy sentences that contain multiple thoughts and explanations, so the staccato-like instructions in this excerpt, today, from his letter to the Thessalonians is particularly noticeable. He doesn’t mince words. His thoughts are crisp, clear, concise, to the point and are worth further purview.
Pray without ceasing.
In all circumstances give thanks…
Why? … for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.
Rejoice! It means to celebrate, to be cheerful, to exult and to be delightful. Why? We have been freed from the bondage of sin—a profound reality we too easily take for granted. It is a reality not available to our ancient ancestors before Christ.
Pray! I remember in college hanging out with some ham radio hobbyists, sometimes, and being fascinated by their searching of the dial in an attempt to “tune in” to someone’s signal in another part of the world. It’s a weak analogy but prayer is similar to this. It is how we “tune in” to God so that our souls can resonate with His Will, and live in Him.
Give Thanks! Paul tells us that giving thanks when all is well is not enough, but that we should give thanks in every circumstance of life. Why? He wants us to see God’s paternal and compassionate care in all aspects of life. We can only reach that summit through constant Prayer… and Rejoicing.
The Pharisees always get a bad rap in the Gospels and deservedly so. Why? Consider, once again, the counsels of Paul to Rejoice, Pray and Give Thanks. The Pharisees did none of this but always rebuked, criticized and used their authority for personal gain. They were captivated by the world and its material things. That’s why they did not recognize John the Baptist for who or what he was. They were suspicious of him and even more so of Christ. They were not “tuned in” to God’s compassionate care. John’s message heralding the coming of the Messiah was beyond their recognition, as it is beyond ours if we fail to Rejoice, Pray and Give Thanks. If we do these as well as follow Paul’s admonitions to test everything; retain what is good; refrain from every kind of evil, then we can welcome Christ at Christmas with the joy of Isaiah: I rejoice heartily in the Lord… for He has clothed me with a robe of salvation and wrapped me in a mantle of justice.