1 Thessalonians 5:16 Be joyful always; 17 pray continually; 18 give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 19 Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; 20 do not treat prophecies with contempt. 21 Test everything. Hold on to the good. 22 Avoid every kind of evil. 23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.”
I have been thinking about this passage a lot this week. Irene in the Philippines got me going with her thankful heart in the midst of such difficulties. This text, as someone said is hard ” to make much sense (of in) a materialistic society whose view of reality is one-dimensional, whose values are measured in terms of acquisitions and successes, and whose cravings for a low-level ephemeral “joy” tend to be addictive and insatiable.”
It might be well for us to think about what it is that makes us thankful? What is it that makes us rejoice? What leads us to pray? Are they the real gifts that come from the Gospel and the gifts of Christ or something else? Do we test everything in our life and see of it conforms to the word of God?
There is an interesting discussion about verse 21 and 22. Scholars say that in the early church, the wording of 1 Thess 5:21 was more often attributed to Jesus than to Paul. And it was prefaced by the words “become approved money-changers.” This then was followed by the participial construction, “by abstaining from evil things and by holding fast to the good.” Thus, Paul may well be quoting from a previously unrecorded saying of Jesus in 1 Thess 5:21-22. If so, then these verses need to be rendered as follows: “Test all things; hold fast to the good, but abstain from every false coinage.” The idea then is that believers ought to stay away from that which is counterfeit–that is, false doctrines”. *
Back in the day I used to watch Westerns with my Dad and there was always some old coot that was paid in some kind of coinage and he would always bite down on the money and examine it. Pirates liked to do the same thing. Evidently if you could make an imprint with your teeth it was gold and not counterfeit because gold is malleable. If the scholars are right Jesus liked to say that we should be approved money changers who hold to what is good and reject the counterfeit. As Advent teaches us that this world is passing away take a bite on whatever it is that gives you joy and makes you thankful and see whether or not you have swallowed a bill of goods. In Christ the Kingdom of God has come and the old has passed away. We find out about that in the church, or at least in churches that don’t hand out counterfeit promises.
*”1 Thessalonians 5:22— The Sin Sniffer’s Catch-All Verse” by Daniel Wallace