Paul makes a very instructive point in his 1st letter to the Thessalonians that we started reading today. Paul was greatly encouraged by the believers there and had many positive things to say about them – rather a contrast to his letters to the Corinthians.
Paul, with “Silvanus and Timothy” [v.1] told the Thessalonians we are “constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labour of love and steadfastness of hope …” [v.2,3]
Dare we use a little imagination and think that if some brethren of the present day were writing a message, they could say something similar about us and our works of faith and our steadfastness ?
Paul tells them “you became an example to all the believers … For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you … but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything.” [v.7,8] How does faith go forth? By example, not by words.
How spiritually strengthened Paul felt: he rejoiced “that our coming to you was not in vain.” [2 v.1] We ponder the present state of faith among believers in our godless world – has some of the work of preaching and converting – and setting an example to our children – ended up being “in vain”?
Paul declares “… we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts.” [2 v.4] Paul is stating an essential principle! He then declares, “we never came with words of flattery … Nor did we seek glory from people… ” [v.5,6]
The gospels show how much the scribes and Pharisees opposed Jesus despite witnessing his miracles! He challenged them, “How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?” [John 5 v.44] Their hearts failed the test!
Paul, as a result of his conversion, was now fully conscious that the aim of his life must be “to please God who tests our hearts.” Peter, in his mature years, wrote and told believers to “rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.” [1 Peter 4 v.13]
We know not whether there will be “sufferings” to test our hearts in the traumas that may surround us as Christ is about to come – but may “our faith in God” have “gone forth” to strengthen others, so that they, with us, can “endure” – for “if we endure, we will also reign with him” [2 Tim 2 v.12]
By Bro D.Caudery
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