Read His Words Before Ours!
“For you yourselves know, brothers and sisters, that our visit with you was not without result.”
– Pastor Paul
Is my life making a difference?
Does this sacrifice count?
The dishes that perpetually pile up.
The floor that always needs swept.
The times I held my tongue from that cutting remark,
or walked away from the gossip I wanted to hear,
or breathed deeply to respond with gentleness instead of anger.
It’s hard, isn’t it?
This in and out breathing, filled with a million mundane decisions that collect over time constituting a whole life. We want to leave our mark on the world. We’d love for the impact of our everyday to outlive the beating of our hearts.
How do we know that our everyday expenditures matter?
Paul’s words, penned centuries ago, ring fresh across the monotony of our moments.
“You know….our visit was not without result. On the contrary, …you know we were emboldened by our God…” (1 Thessalonians 2:1-2)
As I’ve read Paul’s letter to the new believers in Thessalonica, I’ve felt a kinship with them.
I’ve felt their fears. Their questions, some unspoken, and some voiced, have found their way across the strings of my own soul. Did they wonder what I’ve found myself wanting to ask, but pressed down the question for fear of being discovered as lacking faith?
Was it worth it, Paul?
Was your visit here, worth it? You were run out of town, plans didn’t go as you hoped, innocent people were punished. Everything felt jilted.
Do our sacrifices matter? Is God watching our everyday? Will this madness end well?
Does He see our fear, our wonderings, our sometimes-lagging faith?
Paul writes of knowing or remembering five times in the second chapter. Every single time, he addresses the Thessalonians by reminding them of a truth they already knew. He wasn’t writing them something new, he was lovingly shoring up their confidence in a truth they’d already anchored into.
Like a warm blanket to a shivering body, it feels as if God Himself tenderly lifts my countenance through Paul’s Spirit-led words, wrapping His truth sweetly around me.
I already know that yes, doing the dishes every day matters, even into eternity.
When I’m slow to anger, when I pick up the toys for the hundredth time, when I sit and listen to my 6-year old’s story about rocks and worms again, and when I call the friend God laid on my heart. Yes, even when I fall into a heap on my closet floor, sobbing for all the ways I’m sad, lonely, tired, afraid, or angry, I still know, the truth.
Even this is not without eternal result.
Knowing doesn’t equal feeling though, does it?
And how can we know? Are we sure?
Paul writes on with evidence to encourage the Thessalonians, and us.
Painting vivid strokes so we can see the brilliant truth we may not always feel.
You know our visit was not without result. (verse 1)
Yes, the suffering was intense, the circumstances were messy and bleak, but the Lord is a God of all hope (Romans 15:13), so Paul prompts his friends to open their eyes and see the truth and its evidence around them.
You know we were emboldened by God to speak the gospel in spite of great opposition. (verse 2)
The gospel was preached! God stirred up His power inside believers to hold out His truth in the face of their fear. He turned them away from the world and toward His purposes. This work wasn’t about the missionaries, it was about God IN them.
You know we never used flattering speech, had greedy motives, or chased our glory. (verses 5-6)
The believers moved among one another, fearless of consequence, with the tender gentleness of a mother. They demonstrated dear care by laying themselves down entirely, being motivated to not only preach Christ, but share their very lives with each other. (verses 7-8)
You remember our labor and hardship among you, brothers and sisters. (verse 9)
As carriers of the gospel of Jesus, the believers labored to imitate Christ in daily life. Their hard work was not found in mustering up their own righteousness, but in submitting to the Spirit at work in them to bring about a righteousness from God. (verse 10, 1 Thessalonians 5:23)
You know we treated you with the loving affection of a father toward his children. (verse 11)
Marking their days, their relationships, their mundane moments and their bold ones, their body language and voice tone were beautiful brush strokes of encouragement, comfort, and firm urging to walk worthy the God who called them each to partake of His own glory and kingdom.
What lavish grace!
What unfathomable love!
What rich evidence of solid truth!
And so we constantly praise God… proclaims Paul. (verse 13)
God was at work. The sacrifices were indeed worth it, God was making sure of it.
The evidence was everywhere.
I look around my life again, sobered and encouraged by the Spirit’s words through the apostle from long ago. I see dirty dishes where food and laughter were shared. I see piles of laundry that covered healthy bodies of people who live in my house, people I praise God for the privilege of living alongside. I see a home where, if I choose to surrender again and again to the all-powerful Spirit of God within me, I will continue to see evidence of His truth at work all around me.
What do you see?
Will you surrender?
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!