12We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. 14And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle,£ encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. 15See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. 16Rejoice always, 17pray without ceasing, 18give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19Do not quench the Spirit. 20Do not despise prophecies, 21but test everything; hold fast what is good. 22Abstain from every form of evil.
Some of these are easy to understand. Rejoicing is important to the general moral of the church. (Nothing good comes of the fault finder who can't find joy in the moment!) Being thankful... I think we get that. Abstaining from evil (not the appearance of evil as one translation says. This has nothing to do with how things look, rather, every appearance of evil is literally "every where evil appears"!) But then we come to DO NOT QUENCH THE SPIRIT. What? What kind of church would want to be the kind of church where the spirit is quenched? Who quenches the Spirit?
1. People who have grown cynical. Sometimes they say "Don't rely on emotions!" but the message they are really saying to the zealous is "calm down you will again be disappointed and grow callous and cynical as I have". This is really unfair to the person who has zeal. Rather than squash someones zeal we should add knowledge. Proverbs 19.2 says "It is not good to have zeal without knowledge, nor to be hasty and miss the way. " Rather than squash someones passion for Jesus, if you are concerned that it is strictly emotional, wait for the teachable moment and point them to the truth of the Lord. For instance, if someone is buring hot for God our message is not "calm down" but rather at the moment when the fire seems to wane a little stir them on to serve irrespective of emotion and zeal. God's work can be furthered rather than hindered.
2. People who are convicted. Often we are provoked by anothers fire. It actually casts light on the shadowy areas of our own lives... and we don't appreciate that when we are trying to hide our lukewarm hearts.Oswald Chambers writes in the Classic My Utmost for His Highest, "... if in sharing your personal testimony you continually have to look back, saying, “Once, a number of years ago, I was saved.” If you have put your “hand to the plow” and are walking in the light, there is no “looking back”— the past is instilled into the present wonder of fellowship and oneness with God (Luke 9:62 ; also see 1 John 1:6-7). If you get out of the light, you become a sentimental Christian, and live only on your memories, and your testimony will have a hard metallic ring to it. Beware of trying to cover up your present refusal to “walk in the light” by recalling your past experiences when you did “walk in the light” (1 John 1:7). When-ever the Spirit gives you that sense of restraint, call a halt and make things right, or else you will go on quenching and grieving Him without even knowing it."
3. People who are living contrary to the will of God. We surely can learn a great deal from others, but only if our hearts are submissive to truth. There needs to be a cultivation of humility and submission to the truth of God in our lives. Otherwise, we will try to dampen anyone's fire because it stir up conviction and because it infuriates the rebellious nature of our flesh. People who practice gluttony don't like to hear about self control! And when that rebellion gets stirred up it often lashes out at the spiritual person nearest us. A Spouse, a Friend, a co worker can have their spirit's fire quenched when rebellion stirs.
4. People who are confused because they haven't had the experience. Sometimes I hear people warn me regarding getting too spiritual. (Is that even possible?) I find that it is often because I am walking where they haven't been before. Spiritual experiences are otherworldly that is true but God is a God who leads his children from glory to glory! Don't fear the things of God... pursue God and he will lead you into truth!
5. People who don't understand the need. The task given the church is large and gradiose that it is impossible unless we have the spirit's fire burnign bright. When we lose sight of our need for the miraculous intervention of God then we eventually don't see the need for this spiritual fire. In fact, we cannot be half of what the Lord has called us to be without the fire of God!
Let's determine to stoke fires rather than put them out. To feed the flame rather than steal the heat. To Burn brighter than ever before...Because we have a world to win for Jesus!