1 Thes 5:15b “…[Previous command prohibited any vengeance taking], but always pursue~~ what is good for one another and for all.”
The Anabaptist movement (“rebaptizers”) was an early split from the Reformation, because Huldrych Zwingli would not obey the biblical teaching of baptism by immersion as being only for believers. As a result, thousands were mercilessly killed as Protestants and Catholics tried to stop this “rebaptizing” movement that became the Evangelicals of today.
The command to “pursue what is good for one another and for all” has been one of the hallmarks of biblical Christianity. The imperative pursue is in the present tense, which means we are to be continually or habitually acting in this manner.
The verb means “to follow after, pursue with earnestness and diligence in order to obtain.” The literal emphatic rendering of the verse is “but always be constantly pursuing the good,” with the position of emphasis given to “always.”
Here the word good is not meant in an abstract sense of being innocent or moral; rather, it is meant in the concrete sense of being “helpful, useful, or beneficial” to others. This is an action to be pursued constantly as a way to bond believers and as an evangelistic strategy, even in a hostile environment.
Paul wrote, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom 12:20–21).
This action is not an “insider” perk just for fellow believers; it is a general attitude we should have toward everyone we meet in our sphere of influence. Seeking to benefit others is our new nature in Christ.
The church at Thessalonica was already doing this well, but because this is an area of spiritual growth and a symptom of maturity, Paul wrote, “May the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you” (1 Thes 3:12). This is the prescription for being transformed into the likeness of Christ by creatively designing new ways to benefit each other.
In 1569, Anabaptist Dirk Willems, fleeing over a frozen lake, turned back to save his pursuer, who had fallen through the ice. Dirk was captured by his pursuer and burned at the stake, a horrible injustice. He was convinced that obeying the commands was more important than his very life.
James put it this way: “The wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, accommodating, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial, and not hypocritical” (James 3:17NET). Would you have turned back to help your pursuer, knowing it would probably cost you your life?
“Dear God, help me to learn to do good to others regardless of how they may treat me. I know I can always lean on You to help me do the right thing in each circumstance.”