“PRAISING THE FAITHFUL”
“We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers: Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father.” (I Thessalonians 1:2,3)
The believers in the church at Thessalonica were a unique group of dedicated and committed brothers and sisters. The Apostle Paul and his partner, Silas, had gone there during the course of Paul’s second missionary journey. “...they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews. And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three days reasoned with them out of the Scriptures” (Acts 17:1b,2). There were a small number of Jews that believed and a large number of Greeks (Gentiles) that became believers in Jesus Christ as a result of Paul’s proclaiming the Gospel of Christ unto them. The epistle (letter) to the Thessalonians was written about six to nine months after this church was founded by Paul and Silas.
These believers were “on fire” for God. What happened to them could not be silenced nor stifled. They were loyal to the teachings of Paul and “followed” him (his doctrine) in spite of the opposition they encountered (cf I Thessalonians 1:6-8). Paul even declared them to be ensamples, i.e. “a pattern, standard or mold” for others to follow. Their testimony (v. 9) and witness (v. 8) were known in distant places, like Macedonia and Achaia. Paul saw the power of the Holy Ghost on these believers and was thrilled that the young church was growing and acting so responsibly. They were maturing spiritually so rapidly that Paul gave them some meaty doctrines that would ordinarily be reserved for believers much older in the faith.
Perhaps the things Paul saw in these believers while he was with them that short time at the beginning prompted him to praise them for their faithfulness to the Lord. The superlatives Paul uses to describe the mannerisms of these believers should make every Christian envious and challenge each of us to do more and more for our Savior. Paul is remembering some very pleasant things of the church of the Thessalonians as he praised them for their:
1.“Work of faith.” This speaks of their relentless toil. They physically got involved in doing the things (projects) in and around their church and the surrounding communities. As Adam had to work for his food (after the fall) “by the sweat of his brow” (Genesis 3:19), so did these believers work relentlessly to accomplish what was needed. They certainly were not afraid to work, nor did they make excuses, they just did it because of their faith and changed lives.
2.“Labour of love.” This speaks of the pain involved in their ministry, much like a woman giving birth to a child. She will endure the pain because of the love she has for the babe she will be holding in her arms. Yes, there is pain (labour) involved in the service for our Savior; pain many times from unexpected sources, but because of our love for Christ, we, too, must endure knowing what the finish will bring.
3.“Patience of hope.” This speaks of their resolved patience as they worked in the ministry and waited for the promised return of Jesus Christ for His church. The word “hope” means a “certainty, confirmed expectation.”
What a wonderful testimony this church had. We, too, can have this kind of testimony if we would follow their ensample. Don’t you think it is high time to press on to “Higher Ground?”Pastor H. Preston Parker