I love formulas. Give me “3 steps to a cleaner house” or “5 ways to get out of debt”, and I’m a happy girl. There’s something very appealing to me about having concrete solutions to solve a problem.
When it comes to the Christian life, however, it is not about formulas or “steps” to this or that. It’s about a relationship with the Lord; it’s about His mercy and His grace. There aren’t enough formulas in the world to save me. Only Jesus Christ can do that.
But if I may, I want to take the liberty of using the word ‘formula’ to convey the fact that the Bible shows us how life works best. It truly does have concrete solutions to solve life’s problems. One such “formula” is found in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. I like to think of this as God’s 3-part formula against fear, anger, stress, doubt, unbelief, or any other negative emotion we might experience. It’s very simple:
1) “Rejoice always.
2) Pray without ceasing.
3) In everything give thanks…for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
Let’s break it down:
“Rejoice” – be glad, take delight in the Lord Jesus Christ, your identity in Him, and the glorious Gospel (meditate on Ephesians 1 if you need any help thinking of reasons to rejoice!).
“Always” – all the time, in every situation. The Gospel affects every area of our lives, so there is never a time we shouldn’t be rejoicing over what God has done for us.
“Pray” – pour out your heart to the Lord, praising Him, confessing sin to Him, thanking Him, interceding for others, and committing every part of your life to Him (Ps. 62:8)
“Without ceasing” – all the time, in every situation. I love what the note in my ESV Study Bible says: “This suggests a mental attitude of prayerfulness, continual personal fellowship with God, and consciousness of being in his presence throughout the day.”
“In everything” – every situation, good or bad.
“Give thanks” – express gratitude and appreciation for God’s love, the gift of His Son, and His promise to “never leave you nor forsake you” (Heb. 13:5).
“For this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” – this is God’s revealed will in His Word for us to obey. We should give thanks to God the Father “in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Eph. 5:20)
The next time we’re tempted to anger, fear, or doubt, let’s remember all of our blessings in Christ Jesus and follow his will for our lives to rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and in everything give thanks.