Therefore, brothers, in all our distress and persecution we were
encouraged about you because of your faith. For now we
really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord.
(I Thessalonians 3:7-8)
Thoughts… Paul had been the one who led the believers in Thessalonica to faith in Christ. He had established the church there, and then his work needed to be duplicated in other cities, so he moved on. But the great Apostle Paul was worried.
Paul was very much concerned that the Thessalonican’s experience with persecution and hardship would dampen the fires of their faith. Like a father worrying over his children’s heath and welfare, Paul worries that they will be unsettled by their tribulations (vv. 2-3), he is afraid Satan might tempt them to bail out on their faith because of these difficulties, and as a result, he fears that his efforts in leading them to Christ and establishing them in a church will be rendered useless (v. 5).
As it turns out, however, these believers are weathering their storms quite well, and in spite of their newness in the faith, they have a level of spiritual maturity that is remarkable. News reaches Paul that he can tick the Thesslonicans off his worry list because these Christians are doing just fine—and this just makes his day. In fact, the very first thing you notice in chapter three is Paul’s longing to be with them (as opposed to his need to visit the Corinthians for disciplinary reasons—see II Corinthians).
The Thessalonicans are a perpetual example of the kind of faith we ought to exhibit. Our lives should be lived in such a way that we become a continual source of joy for those around us, especially our spiritual leaders. When we exhibit an unwavering devotion to God, receptivity to his Word, and determination in the face of adversity, we become a source of thanksgiving rather than anxiety to those who are looking after us.
Does your spiritual leader take pleasure in the genuineness and quality of your Christianity? Is your spiritual life a source of encouragement to other believers? Can the people who love you check you off their worry list, knowing you have a faith that endures in the face of difficulties?
People who love you—especially your spiritual leaders—are watching your life. So go ahead, make their day. Give them good reason to check you off their worry list—they’ve got enough other folks to worry about who don’t quite get it yet!
Prayer… Dear Father, make me a source of encouragement to those who know and love me. May I be for them a continual cause of joy rather than worry, even as I endure difficulties.
One More Thing… “Joy is not the absence of suffering. It is the presence of God.” —Robert Schuller