1 Thessalonians 1: Six Reasons to Give Thanks
July 10, 2019
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
1 Chronicles 23-25, Psalm 135, Luke 9:28-36, 1 Thessalonians 1
What should we be looking to become? What sort of goals should we set for our lives? One way to answer that is to consider what makes the apostle Paul give thanks. Here, Paul has 6 reasons for giving thanks – each of which we can give thanks for too, if we see them in our lives or the life of our church, and each of which we can aim to cultivate in our lives too.
First, Paul gives thanks for their practical Christian living that is rooted in their deep spiritual experience. He gives thanks for their work produced by faith, labor prompted by love, and endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. Do we wish to inspire ourselves or others to endure? Point to the hope of Jesus’ return. Do we wish to inspire ourselves or others to labor hard? Show the love of Jesus’s death on the cross. Do we wish to inspire ourselves or others to good works? Put your faith in Jesus himself. Work, labor, and endurance all come from faith, love, and hope.
Second, Paul knows that they are chosen by God because the gospel is not just with words but with power, the Holy Spirit, and deep conviction. The gospel, when received by faith, produces change. There is power to the gospel. The Holy Spirit comes and gives deep conviction. Do we wish to see more impact – more power, deep conviction? Then ensure that the gospel is front and center in our lives and the life of the church in which we are involved.
Third, Paul describes how they – Paul, Silas, and Timothy – lived among them – the Thessalonians – for their sake and how they became imitators of them. Do we wish to see people follow Jesus? Look first to our example. Are we following Jesus? Are we living among the people we wish to reach in such a way that they can see how we live and then imitate our example?
Fourth, their imitation was not just of Paul and Silas and Timothy, but of the Lord Jesus himself, as they found even in the midst of severe suffering joy from the Holy Spirit. What a wonderful thing for which to give thanks! That even in the midst of suffering, because of what Christ has done, and because of what the Holy Spirit is doing, there is real joy for the Christian even in such suffering!
Fifth, this imitation and example meant that their faith became known “everywhere.” There was a very widespread ministry that God had given to the church through their example of joy even in the midst of suffering. What a thing for which to give thanks, and to pray for – that God would so give us joy even in suffering that we would then be an example to others wider and wider to the glory of God.
Sixth, this wider impact of the Thessalonian church meant that Paul did not need to describe them to others – for they already knew all about the Thessalonians! In particular, they knew they had turned from idols to serve the living and true God and to wait for the return of Jesus. What a matter about which to give thanks — that there has obviously been a deep spiritual shift of allegiance from idolatry of money or fame or sex to serve the living and true God.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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