Our scripture this morning is 1 Thessalonians 5:12-23.

Dear brothers and sisters, honor those who are your leaders in the Lord’s work. They work hard among you and give you spiritual guidance. Show them great respect and wholehearted love because of their work. And live peacefully with each other. Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are lazy. Encourage those who are timid. Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone. See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to all people. Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. Do not stifle the Holy Spirit. Do not scoff at prophecies, but test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good. Stay away from every kind of evil. Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again.

Paul closes his first letter to the Thessalonians with a list of Christlike characteristics they are to cultivate. Perhaps most important in this group is “be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus” (v. 18). Being thankful always and following God’s will is how Jesus lived His earthly life as an example to us.

Paul mentions a variety of other behaviors, all of which we see embodied in Jesus. Our challenge is to practice these, not just with the body of Christ but with all God’s children everywhere. In this way we become closer to God through Christ and also to each other.

I have difficulty focusing on more than one improvement in my life at a time, so I plan to choose one of these characteristics each week as my goal and work to improve how I live them out. I invite you to pray about them and discern which of these skills may need attention in your life. Through God’s help and intentional practice, we can be the people He has called us to be.

Loving Lord, we know we aren’t always like Jesus in our thoughts, words and actions. Bless us to hear the spirit’s guidance and apply it in our lives, that we may bring the Good News to the world. Amen.

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