Discussion Guide for 1 Thessalonians 5:11-15

In today’s life group discussion, we’re going to discover how we can build one another up and be encouraged by fellow believers in the faith.

Introductory Exercise

For this exercise, you will need a good-sized box of paper clips. Ask every person in your group how long they have been a Christian. They can either date this from a time they had a conversion experience or from a time when they committed to begin taking their faith seriously.

(Note: this is a good opportunity for group leaders to get an idea about where each group member stands in relationship with Jesus, so actually listen to people when they answer this question.)  

Give each person one paper clip for each year that they have been a Christian. After you have passed out paper clips, have the entire group link their paper clips together end to end and see how far the chain stretches when everyone’s paper clips are combined into one.

These are not merely paper clips. They represent years of experience with Jesus that are possessed by each person in the group. Even if each person does not feel like they have a lot of experience and wisdom to share, they need to realize that collectively we have a lot of riches to share with one another.

Build One Another Up

  • Does knowing that there is a lot of experience of faith in this room give you more confidence in your own walk?
  • Do you think the other people in this room would be willing to share their experience of faith to “build you up?” 

11 Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. 12 We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. 14 And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. 15 See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.

1 Thessalonians 5:11-15

Austin acknowledged in his sermon that modern American culture does almost everything possible to push people away from living in real community. Even though we are materially very wealthy, many people would pity us for being SOCIALLY impoverished. This type of poverty sadly can also be found among people who think they are faithful at attending church.

The worst part about people who live socially impoverished lives is that they are also spiritually poor. We know that the Christian life is not a life alone but a life together. In fact, whether we are aware of it or not, our existence is either serving to edify or to tear down our fellow believers.

“We are members of a body, not only when we choose to be, but in our whole existence. Every member serves the whole body, either to its health or to its detriment.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer in Life Together

When we as Americans seek to live in isolation rather than living as Christians who are accountable to the church, we are depriving both our own souls and each other of the gifts that each one of us are intended to bring to the work of the church.

Discussion Questions

  • What does it mean to build up people? (verse 11)
  • Who has built you up over a period of years?
  • Who are verses 12-13 commanding us to respect? Are pastors the only people who “labor among us, are over us, and admonishing us?”
  • What is the biggest need for the community of faith to “be at peace” today? (verse 13)
  • How can we obey verses 14 and 15 with an attitude of love instead of an attitude of judgment?

Prayer time

One of the greatest ways to “build one another up” is to pray for them. Get into groups of two or three to ask each other how you can build them up through prayer.

Jonathan Pugh
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