While it is important for us to emphasize God’s Plan of Salvation (belief, repentance, and baptism for the remission of sins-Acts 2:38, Mark 16:16), it is also important for us to know what Christians are to do as a saved people. We should worship correctly, stay away from worldly and selfish conduct and grow in Christ’s grace and knowledge. But a major way of measuring the effect of salvation on Christian people is the way in which they treat one another. Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 5:15 “See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all.” This verse has one negative command and two positive ones that each of us should follow.
The first command is to render no man evil for evil. In other words, disciples of Christ are not to be in the “getting even business.” We are told several times in the Bible that Christians will be persecuted or hurt by others, 2 Timothy 3:12, John 15:18. Unfair treatment by non-Christians (and sometimes even by our brethren) is inevitable as long as Satan is the prince of this world. While that cannot be avoided, what we can control is our reaction to how we are treated. The gentiles of this world retaliate when they are wronged. Many people endanger their souls be getting even with others and by striving to show their mental and physical superiority over others. We are tempted to gossip back, to spread slander and to “one up” anyone who says hurtful things about us. But Christians are to be different than the people of this world.
The second command of 1 Thessalonians 5:15 is to pursue what is good for ourselves. Since our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit, we should treat our bodies well and protect them from danger. We may be called to martyrdom but we should attempt to avoid it if it is possible for us to do so without denying our faith. Christians should not allow themselves to be bullied, abused or hurt unless they have to endure such conduct in order to remain a Christian. It is biblical for us to love ourselves as Christ has loved us. Our body and soul is worth protecting. No one has a right to abuse you.
A third command found in 1 Thessalonians 5:15 is to pursue things that are good for all people. This means we each have a responsibility to see that our actions help more than ourselves—they must help everyone. I cannot allow my opinions and pride to be a stumbling block to others. I must be sure to place love and mercy to others above my desire to please myself. The words I say, the things I do, and the thoughts that I think are to be in position to help to encourage and grow the church of Christ.
The way I treat other people is a measure of my maturity in Christ. When I an immature novice in the faith, I will try to right every wrong against me. Those who forget God’s mercy are not willing to lend mercy to others. As I grow in the faith, I will glory at the opportunities that I am given to show patience and love to others—especially to those of the household of faith. As you continue your journey f faith this week, look for opportunities to show patience and forgiveness to others.