Here we are. As Christians, we live between two major events, being born again and being taken to be with the Lord. This space in time could be one day, one year, one decade, or even one century. We never know when our time on this earth will come to a close. 1 Thessalonians 5:2 says, “the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.”
So now what? What are we to do with our time here? There are several answers to that question, but the Apostle Paul addresses it one way in 1 Thessalonians 5.
In verse 6 it says, “let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober.” Why does Paul say this? Because we need to hear it. Despite the living God indwelling in us, our flesh still influences us, and one component of that influence is apathy. We are at times, spiritually lethargic.
And to use a current phrase, the struggle is real. In fact, at different levels and at different times we are all guilty of sleeping on the job. But this should not be, for this is not who we are. It says in verse 7 and 8, “for those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night. 8But since we belong to the day, let us be sober.” As born again believers, we belong to the day; we are children of the light. (Verse 5), and we are called to act accordingly, not asleep, but spiritually awake, spiritually active.
But how are we to do this? First, verse 8 says, “having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.” A breastplate is a piece of armor, it is necessary in times of war. This is how we must view this time between our justification and our glorification, it is a time of war. We have an enemy (Satan) who desires to make a shipwreck out of our faith (Ephesians 6:16, 1 Peter 5:8), and we therefore must be on guard, be prepared, and take action.
The way in which we are to do this is by faith, love, and hope. To live by faith means to live with your eyes set upon God and His will, trusting in his redemptive plan that is fulfilled through Christ. To live by love is to love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and your neighbor as yourself. To live with hope is to recognize that this world is not our home, but that our destiny is to be with the Lord because of what has been achieved through Christ.
And these three fruits of our salvation (faith, love, and hope) are not to be kept to ourselves, but are to be poured out upon our brothers and sisters in Christ. Verse 11 says, “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”
Between now and Paradise, one of our duties as Christians is to encourage and build up brothers and sisters in Christ encouraging them to be people of faith, love, and hope. As a good solider of Christ we are to boost spiritual morale in the camp of God’s army.
Obviously, in order to fulfill this command we must be in in the camp. We must be physically and present in the assembly of God’s people. You cannot encourage and build up from your bed or your couch. Second, we must be spiritually present. We should not be going through motions when we gather as God’s people. We must pour out our lives into the lives of others. We must wash each other’s feet as Christ washed the disciples feet.
Make it a point the next time the Church gathers to come ready, to come awake, to come as a children of light and invest in the spiritual health of your family. Encourage them and build them up. Lay down your own interest for the interest of others, just as Christ laid down his life for you.