A deep-rooted Christian friendship is valuable beyond measure. It is for this reason that Paul closes his letter to the Thessalonians by emphasizing friendship.
Read 1 Thessalonians 5:19–28. Reflect on 1 Thessalonians 5:25–28:
“Brothers, pray for us. Greet all the brothers with a holy kiss. I put you under oath before the Lord to have this letter read to all the brothers. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you” (ESV).
Paul asks the Christians at Thessalonica to keep him and his coauthors—Timothy and Silvanus (also called Silas)—in their prayers. Paul in no way viewed himself as beyond the need for prayer. He saw the prayers of others as powerful and much needed. The friendship of the church at Thessalonica was vital to Paul’s future work and ministry.
Today, prayer has generally become an excuse for inaction. We tell others that we will pray for them so we do not personally have to intervene. In juxtaposition, Paul and his colleagues took prayer very seriously. They viewed it as essential to ministry and life. Friendship rooted in prayer has the power to change everything.
But Paul does not just emphasize prayer; he is a man of action in both prayer from afar and in-person. He wants the Christians at Thessalonica to remember to be kind to one another. For this reason, Paul emphasizes the need for the common Graeco-Roman greeting of a kiss. We show a similar kindness through a hug. Paul also emphasizes that his letter must be read before the entire church, not just among a certain group. The kindness of his letter, including its tough love, must be shared with all.
Paul then closes his letter in a typical fashion, emphasizing the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. In making this claim, Paul emphasizes that Jesus—the anointed one (the Christ) and the Lord of all—is first and foremost about grace.
Close friendships—based in the grace and kindness of Christ—can completely transform our lives. Let’s always remember their power. But above all, let’s remember the power of the grace of Jesus Christ the Lord among us.
What Christian friendships should you be investing more time into, through prayer and in-person? Who do you know that needs to be shown the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ today—and how can you show it to them?
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