What a way to conclude a letter. These last verses of 1 Thessalonians conclude an awesome letter in an awesome way.
In these last verses Paul gives us some specific ways to display the changes Christ brings into our lives. In verses 12 & 13 Paul outlines the way we should behave toward church leaders - respect them and hold them in the highest regard. In verses 14 & 15 we are given instructions for Christian living - warn the idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, and do not seek revenge.
Verses 16 through 18 provide us with some inner attitudes a Christian should have. "Be joyful always" - no matter what circumstances you are in because you know your ultimate reward is yet to come. "Pray continually" - maintain a constant attitude of being in God's presence. "Give thanks in all circumstances" - realize that God works all things out for the good of those who love and serve Him.
Now Paul moves into some personal responsibilities and spiritual integrity in verses 19 through 22. Follow the leading of the Holy Spirit and do not stifle His work. Seek God's will and not your own. Follow the teachings found in the Bible. Measure everything you see and hear against the teaching in the Bible.
Finally we get to the benediction, verses 23 through 27. All of the instructions about our lifestyle can be accomplished only by the help of the Lord. We should pray for His assistance and presence.
Then, in verse 28, the sign-off, the goodbye. Many of us say goodbye by using whatever is in vogue, "see you later", "catch you later", "take it easy", "so long", "have a nice day". Paul wishes these people God's grace. What a wonderful ending to a letter that encourages us all to live for Christ instead of ourselves. Paul points out, extremely well, in this letter the question behind all the decisions we face. This question is always - who are we living for?