1. Rejoice always;
2. Pray without ceasing;
3. In everything, give thanks (for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus);
4. Do not quench the Spirit;
5. Do not despise prophetic utterances;
6. Hold fast to that which is good; and
7. Abstain from every form of evil.
It occurs to me that, if I held up every decision / word / action / thought / deed against these seven premises; if I inspected every possible motive against these godly characteristics, I'd more easily align my life with the truth of God's word.
Rejoice always. Regardless of circumstance or situation. Not "be happy," but rejoice!! I can rejoice no matter how sad or angry I am feeling, because God is sovereign and He is in control. And I know that He has a purpose.
Pray without ceasing. Communicate with God continuously! Remembering, of course, that communication is a two-way street. I've got to _listen_ to God, as well as talk to Him.
In everything give thanks! (emphasis added) EVERYTHING! How? By faith. Why? Because it's God's will for me to do so! How can I become embittered, or prideful, or envious, when I'm thanking God for His good & perfect will, in everything?!
Do not quench the Spirit. Don't ignore that inner prompting, that still, small voice. God's Holy Spirit directs and guides our steps on that narrow path. Ignoring that prompting hardens our hearts, and our ability to hear that voice, effectively quenching the Spirit. God says, "Don't do it."
Do not despise prophetic utterances. Good gravy, what?!? First of all, what are utterances, and how do we know if they're prophetic? Utterance is the act of uttering; vocal expression. Prophetic would refer to the ability to foretell events, by supernatural intervention. In other words, when a child of God comes to you in a spirit of love, and points out that a behavior of yours *will have* damaging consequences, don't despise the utterer. Rejoice that God has seen fit to warn you of a behavior or choice which does not line up with His will!
Hold fast to that which is good! One Scripture perfectly defines this command: Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. Philippians 4:8.
Abstain from every form of evil. I think I prefer how the King James Version translates this particular point. Abstain from all appearance of evil (the emphasis is mine). Don't even allow your actions to mimic or to appear as if you were doing evil. No only must we guard against doing evil, but we need to guard against our actions appearing evil to others. Especially non-believers, and babes in the faith, so as not to damage our testimony, nor to hinder theirs.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-22. A beautiful synopsis for living a Christ-centered life.