“Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
Whenever the word “therefore” appears within the pages of God’s Word, we would do well to pay attention to the portion of Scripture that immediately follows. You see, this word indicates that a Biblical author is ready to summarize the content of a previous section and present us with an appropriate response. Here in 1 Thessalonians chapter five, the word “therefore” marks a transition from the doctrinal teachings that characterized the initial verses of this chapter to a series of practical applications.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 contains the first of a series of nineteen directives that continue through verse twenty-two of this chapter. That list begins with the following instruction: “…encourage each other and strengthen one another” (GW). One of the more obvious means of implementing this directive involves the act of comforting and identifying with those who are going through difficulties that parallel our own life experiences.
The New Testament epistle of 2 Corinthians builds upon this idea when it tells us, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).
We can also comfort others through the quality of our relationships with them. While personality clashes, misunderstandings, and differences of opinion will always exist, we should prayerfully seek to be the kind of people who typify the message of Philemon 1:7: “Your love has given me much joy and comfort, my brother, for your kindness has often refreshed the hearts of God’s people” (NLT).
A final area of encouragement and comfort involves our ability to edify those spiritual leaders, teachers, counselors, mentors, and advisors who exert a positive impact upon our lives. As mentioned earlier in our look at 1 Thessalonians chapter two, a genuine spiritual leader derives a great deal of encouragement from the knowledge that others have grown in Christ as a result of his or her efforts. We can encourage such leaders by living the kind of lives that bring to mind the following words from 3 John 1:4: “I have no greater joy than this: to hear that my children are walking in the truth” (HCSB).
The next two verses of 1 Thessalonians chapter five will provide us with an opportunity to examine this area in greater detail.