This Is What It’s All About!

Final instructions! When you hear those words, in whatever context, you know that it is time to listen up, time to take notes, because “this is what it is all about.” Paul is giving his final instructions to his beloved community in Thessalonica in this passage. In essence he is giving them a catechism, a brief guide book for the kind of behavior that is proper to those who call themselves followers of Christ. Today, we are concentrating on three things in particular: testing everything, holding on to the good, and avoiding every kind of evil. This is enough for a lifetime of contemplation.

“Test everything.” This is always good advice, in every situation. What is it that we should be testing everything for? We should be testing to see first if it is true, or false. With the modern universal phenomenon of Facebook, how many times have people seen something on that site and responded to it with either cynical protestations, or prideful glee, only to find out that they have been duped by an untrue, or made up story of one kind or another. It seems that the appeal to emotions has replaced the appeal to reason in many areas of our lives, not the least of which, our political lives. Because of instant communications, and the proliferation of “social media” it has become even more important for us to “test everything” before we go charging off attacking windmills like mad Don Quixotes.

“Hold on to the good.” When we find the good, we should hold on to it for dear life. We should make it a part of our own lives, no matter the cost that doing so may bring to us. This is the way of Christ after all. Jesus is the first good that we should hold on to. He is the model of all that is good and true. If we hold on to him we will never be lost. We will never get swept up into the maelstrom of hyper emotionalism, or be confused by things disguised as good, but which are really evil. Goodness is the nature we were made in. We ought to cling to that nature with all of our hearts, minds, bodies and souls. And it is that goodness that we ought to share with all others, willingly and joyfully.

“Avoid every kind of evil.” If we test everything in the light of faith, through the prism of the scriptures, and if we cling to all that is good, we will be much more capable of avoiding all that is evil. Avoiding evil is the soundest advice one can be given for the health of both body and soul. Evil is, by its very nature, destructive. To be drawn to evil like a moth to a flame is to be drawn to our own deaths morally and spiritually. There is no life in evil. It is a matter of true wisdom, then, to avoid all that is presently, or potentially evil. To know the difference between good and evil, then, is a survival mechanism for our mortal lives and for our eternal souls.

Lord, give us the courage to test everything; the strength to hold on to all that is good; and the wisdom to avoid everything that is evil. It is life that we desire. Make us your champions for the good in this world. In you we place our faith. I you we find our hope. In you we learn the true meaning of love. Protect us, guide us in your Holy Spirit, so that we may be your good and faithful servants of love, now and forever. We pray in your name, Jesus. Amen!

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Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site blog.