Over the last month, we’ve been examining the idea of the Christian Faith being known as “The Way.” As is taught in multiple places, there are only two ways that we can go in this life. Near the end of Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians, he teaches the saints about the Day of the Lord (1 Thes. 5:1-10). It is during this discussion that we find another example of everyone going just one way, or another. In the middle of the passage, the apostle encourages them by saying,
You are all children of light, and children of the day. We don’t belong to the night, nor to darkness,1 Thessalonians 5:5
In the above verse, He uses the terms “children of light” and “children of the day.” May we all be described as such! As we go further in text, we observe that some people are children of the day, but others are of the night. We’ll look at that later. In the immediate context of verse 5, Paul instructs them to not sleep as others do. Instead, “Let’s watch and be sober” (1 Thes. 5:6). This instruction highlights two main things we need to do as Christians.
An Exhortation to Watch
The exhortation to watch may prompt us to think of being alert, or scanning the horizon with our eyes. We need to train our senses, and use them in preparation for the Lord’s return. 1 Thessalonians isn’t the only letter where Paul instructs his readers to watch. For instance, near the end of his first letter to the Corinthians, he writes, “Watch! Stand firm in the faith! Be courageous! Be strong!” (1 Cor. 16:13).
To another congregation, he connects the need to watch with prayer and thankfulness. It is from the fourth chapter of Colossians. The passage shares the need to watch with thanksgiving, and also mentions his requests for prayers. It reads as follows, “Continue steadfastly in prayer, watching therein with thanksgiving; praying together for us also, that God may open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds; that I may reveal it as I ought to speak” (Col. 4:2-4).
One impressive aspect about the above is all that he hopes for! These include opening a door for the Word and speaking the mystery of Christ… even though he is bound in chains! What about yourself?
Do you think you could watch, pray, and be thankful in similar circumstances?
If not, in areas does your faith need to grow?
Even when Paul was in prison, He labored for the Lord, and taught and encouraged the saints through his letters. He watched with thankfulness, and saw the power of prayer in the midst of his trials. He was not oblivious to God’s power and faithfulness while he suffered. He was awake and alert. He used his God-given senses, and watched.
May we all do likewise!
In addition to our eyes and other senses, our minds also need to be active. It is necessary for us to analyze what is happening around us so we can respond accordingly. We cannot be dull or emotional in our thoughts. Instead, we are to be calm and collected in spirit. As 1 Thessalonians 5 continues, we learn the keys to doing that.
It stems from keeping our faith, hope, and love. This is indicated from the verse that reads, “But let us, since we belong to the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and, for a helmet, the hope of salvation” (1 Thes. 5:8).
Each day, we need to put on our breastplate of faith and love. By reading the Word of God regularly we can grow in faith (Rom. 10:17). Through such discipline, we are continually reminded to love others (1 Thes. 3:11-13). Not just those who are of the household of faith, but also people who are outside of Christ. As we learn from the Word, we become more like Christ, and convey the love of God to all.
If we trust God, we can do the above while also having the hope of salvation. We will know that the Lord will return, and also look forward to being with Him forever. For more on the coming of Christ, please see the end of each of the chapters in 1 Thessalonians.
The Children of the Night
Sadly, the above does not describe those who are children of the night. Children of darkness are spoken of in a very different way in 1 Thessalonians 5. They are asleep and drunk. At one point Paul speaks of the rest who are sleeping. These are those who are of the night. He says, “…We don’t belong to the night, nor to darkness, so then let’s not sleep, as the rest do…” (1 Thes. 5:5-6).
He continues the thought by writing,
For those who sleep, sleep in the night; and those who are drunk are drunk in the night.1 Thessalonians 5:7
These people are not watching. They are not looking for the Way of God, and are slumbering. A few may be aware of their spiritual condition, but are not ready for Jesus’ return. Furthermore, when they are awake, their spirits are not under control. Some spend time being drunk. Their hearts are not calm, and may use alcohol to temporarily reduce such anxiety. Others may also use other addictive substances for similar purposes.
Their drunkenness and spiritual slumber are terrible. Those of us who are awake and sober have the responsibility to warn others. Such a duty is demonstrated in both the Old and New Testaments, and something I will likely discuss in greater detail later. Many people are asleep and drunk, and are not even close to being ready for the Lord’s return.
We need to watch, and be sober of heart as we go throughout our days. Rejoicing as a child of light, and shining the radiance of truth and love to a dark and broken world. People are not watching or awake. They are not ready, and many become so drunk and addicted that they cannot think clearly. Let’s look for opportunities to speak with others in a calm, reasonable way, and encourage them to wake from their slumber.
After all, if we who are of the day do not, who will?
Bright Summer Sky by Ana_J from Pixabay.