“But we request of you brethren… and we urge you brethren…” (1 Thessalonians 5:12-22, NASB)
Father knows best. Listen to the fatherly advice that Paul gave to the Thessalonian Christians for holy living as the day of the Lord drew near. Listen to the desperate pleading of a father who wanted a life of blessing for his children and to be spared from the consequences of sin. He writes,
“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. And we urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with all men. See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all men. Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil.”
The two words that stood out to me were “request” and “urge.” Being a father myself, I understand what Paul was going through here. Your children are under your care when they are little, but when they grow older they are left to make decisions for themselves. You can’t force them to do the right thing. You can’t really force them to do anything. You are left hoping that they learned all that you have taught them and they have a good heart to make the right decisions for their lives. It is agonizing and heartbreaking when you see them choose the wrong path. It is also uplifting and joyful when you see them make the right decisions. However, whether they choose right or wrong, you are left standing on the sideline cheering for them with the anxious words, “I request of you to good” or “I urge you to be righteous.” In a sense, this is the picture of our Heavenly Father who wants the best for us and save us from the evils of sin. He even sent His Son Jesus to reveal His heart to us. He said, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!” (Mt.7:11) And like our spiritual father, Apostle Paul pleads with us in this passage to have the right attitude for holy living. And what does that “holy living” looks like? He spells it out for us in these passages plain and simple: respect your spiritual leaders, live peacefully with others, warn the wrongdoers, encourage the discouraged, help the weak, be patient with everyone, don’t take revenge but seek for a good outcomes, rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks for everything, don’t quench the Holy Spirit, be open to prophetic utterances, examine your life, cling to what is good, and abstain from every form of evil. It’s kind of funny because when I was a young man, my parents urged me to be good with similar words, but I did not want to hear them. But now that I am a father, I find myself saying these things to my children because I want them to be blessed and be spared from evil. The turning point takes place when we become a father or mother ourselves. It is because you finally understand what it means to be a father or a mother. And if you know how to give good advice to your children, then shouldn’t you apply them yourself? Listen to Paul as he “requests” and “urges” us as a father to apply these instructions because it will go well with us. Listen to him. Father knows best.