Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing. (I Thessalonians 5:11)
The country preacher said, "The pastor's job is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable." God's Word has a way of doing both. In the context of 1 Thessalonians 5, and Paul's teaching concerning the return of Christ, there is great comfort to be found in that blessed hope—but it can also make us uncomfortable as we know we will stand before Christ in judgment and give an answer for the work we have done, or neglected to do.
Going to sleep in Jesus, when we die, is a good thing, but sleeping on duty is a bad thing! With that in mind, Paul issues a call to URGENCY (v.1-3). I heard of an old farmer and his wife jolted awake when the clock struck thirteen! He jumped out of bed yelling, "Wake up Ethel, it's later than it's ever been!" Indeed, it is. There is an urgency about our assignment. As we observe all that is happening in our world today, we must ask are we witnessing the labor pains of the coming Kingdom of God soon to be birthed? There will be a man coming into the growing turmoil who promises peaces, but will bring perdition.
The approaching return of Christ should also inspire FERVENCY (v.4-6). While we ought to ever be motivated to serve Christ, the nearness of His coming should stir us as never before. We ought to seek to be like the Sons of Issachar, "who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do." (1 Chron.12:32). Looking up to heaven, ought to move us to roll up our sleeves—inspiration leading to perspiration!
Paul closes the chapter with a word about SUFFICIENCY (v.7-11). We are Christian soldiers on the battlefield for our Lord. Our equipment is sufficient for the strife. The Apostle calls us to dress for combat by putting on the armor of faith, hope, and love. The blood of Christ is sufficient—it will save to the uttermost. Trust Him!
Encourage those who encourage you (5:12-13). As a Pastor, it is my duty to encourage the people of God—to give you a pat on the back, or a kick in the seat, as needed. Believe it or not—I could use some encouragement too! In fact, pastors are on the front lines, where the fire is the heaviest—and Satan trains his artillery on God's leaders. If he can bring them down, then others are made vulnerable. Those encouragements include praise, prayer, thanksgiving, prophesying, discernment of error, and abstinence from evil (5:14-28).
Let us spur one another on! We may well be heading down the homestretch, the finish line approaching—and then to be with Jesus forever and ever! These are comforting words in a distressing world!