If Christians care about anything, it’s our worship services.
We have shown that care by our prayers but even more so by our arguments. In many respects we have acted as if we are being the one worshiped rather than God.
In 1 Thessalonians 5, Paul instructed the church in Christian conduct, first toward other believers (5:12-15) and then in their worship (5:16-22). While some people simply assume Paul was summarizing his letter in this section, a close look at the text shows that Paul is speaking directly to the church and that he intends that they follow these commands.
Notice the four commands to the church about their common experience. He tells them (1) to follow their leaders and esteem them highly in love because of their work, (2) to live in peace with one another, (3) to help admonish the weak and unruly, and (4) to seek that which is good for one another.
Those instructions will bless any church.
What about worship? How should our worship services look?
Amazingly, Paul doesn’t deal with any of the issues we have problems with, such as length of services, types of music, and various other outward displays. He deals with matters of the heart.
Paul gives four areas of attitudes about worship.
First, rejoice in the Lord always. Worship should be joyous because we have so much about which to rejoice. We have the sacrifice of the Lord, the promise of heaven, and the presence of the Holy Spirit. We have every reason to worship joyfully.
Second, pray continually. We need to pray so that it is a natural part of our lives as we spend time with our Heavenly Father. How much do we miss because we don’t take everything to God in prayer?
Third, give thanks in every circumstance. While we are not told to give thanks for every circumstance, we are encouraged to give thanks in every circumstance. Because of God’s great work and the Spirit of Jesus in our lives, we have reason to give thanks no matter what happens.
Fourth, hear the Word with gratitude and appreciation, not condemning or critiquing, but examining the Word and holding on to what is good and rejecting what is evil. Paul’s words show the importance of preaching and teaching and doing so with humility and conviction. No wonder we devote at least half of our worship to the ministry of the Word of God.
Later in the week, we will look at how we test the spirits without doing so with negative and ungodly attitudes.