The film, ‘Marvellous’, captures something of the wonderful story of Neil ‘Nello’ Baldwin, who became kit man at Stoke City in the era when Lou Macari was manager. It’s a drama which truly deserves the epithet ‘heart-warming’. On reading (16) I thought about Neil and a comment his character makes in the film: ‘’I wanted to be ‘appy so I decided I would be!’’
We’re continuing to look at some of Paul’s practical injunctions set in the context of living in the light of Christ’s return. Here are some further points:
Live joyfully (16): Joy is a choice. Neil Baldwin was right. You can’t always choose your circumstances but you can select your attitudes. Living joyfully is very much about being a thankful person (18) – someone who counts their blessings rather than continually obsesses over their burdens. It is also about living to serve others (see 15). If you live for others you will almost certainly run into joy as a by-product. ‘’Get along among yourselves, each of you doing your part…Gently encourage the stragglers, and reach out for the exhausted, pulling them to their feet. Be patient with each person, attentive to individual needs. And be careful that when you get on each other’s nerves you don’t snap at each other. Look for the best in each other, and always do your best to bring it out.’’ (13b-15) The Message. Good, healthy relationships are a key to joy-filled living.
Live prayerfully (17): This is not about always saying prayers, but living in a spirit of prayer. We need to be prayed for (25), and we need to pray for others (23-25). ‘’Friends, keep up your prayers for us.’’ The Message.
Live thankfully (18): As I have already begun to intimate, I see these three exhortations as being interlinked. A prayerful person who is learning to give thanks ‘’in all circumstances’’ will also be coming to understand the secret of joy. In fact, it is no secret. This is out in the open. There is a further dimension to this life of joy and it comes next:
Live with openness to the Holy Spirit (19-22): But do this with discerning wisdom. ‘’Don’t suppress the Spirit, and don’t stifle those who have a word from the Master. On the other hand, don’t be gullible.’’ The Message.
To be able to live out the wonderfully practical instructions in this closing section of 1 Thessalonians, we will need the ‘’grace of our Lord Jesus Christ’’ (28). It is ours in abundance.
Prayer: Thank you Lord that you make possible what you insist on.