Read His Words Before Ours!
During my daughter’s first years of university studies, my mind was always with her. I knew that university lifestyle was quite different from secondary school. I was praying for her almost every day, calling to know how she was doing, and sending her text messages to encourage her.
Two things prompted my actions.
- I love her, and wanted her future to be good.
- I was afraid lest she fell into a bad company and ruin her life; I didn’t want my labor to be in vain.
I see a similar relationship between the Thessalonian Christians and the apostle Paul, Silas, and Timothy, who traveled together to encourage churches. (1 Thessalonians 1:1) Having suffered great opposition, they persevered to preach the gospel to the believers in Thessalonica together. After being forced to leave the city, they were keen to know how the new believers were growing in their faith. Paul’s team made several attempts to visit, but were hindered by Satan (through aggressive persecution). At last, they resorted to sending Timothy to go and encourage the churches on their behalf.
Recalling his labor among them, Paul said,
“We cared so much for you that we were pleased to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us.” (1Thessalonians 2:8)
As a result, Paul’s team was afraid, lest the new believers become weary and give up their faith because of affliction. Therefore, they sent Timothy to “strengthen and encourage” them, so no one would be shaken by afflictions. (1 Thessalonians 3:2)
Wow! That pricks my heart; I ask myself again and again whether I am committed to loving the Church this way. How often do we pray for the Church, especially new believers? What about those who have backslidden? Are we making efforts to restore them back into Christ’s fold? I am afraid that instead of reaching out in empathy and support, sometimes others’ failures become a topic of discussion to us. In our hypocrisy, we talk of it with pleasure, as if to say, “it serves them right.”
There’s a hymn that usually keeps me in check; as I sing, I am reminded of all I owe Jesus:
“Must I go and empty-handed?
Must I meet my Savior so?
Not one soul with which to greet Him?
Must I empty-handed go?”
Are we prepared to meet our Savior?
Will our life’s work reflect His heart of passion for each person?
We must return to this first-love question throughout our lives.
Jesus commanded us to go and make disciples of all nations. (Matthew 28:19-20) We must not take His command for granted; it calls us to action! The immediate receivers of His command (His disciples) obeyed it.
Now it is our turn.
How committed are we to making disciples?
Do our hearts yearn with love, the way Paul and his team did for the Thessalonian Christians?
His deep care for them compelled Paul to say,
“When I could no longer stand it, I also sent him [Timothy] to find out about your faith.” (1Thessalonians 3:5)
Paul was afraid Satan might have tempted them to abandon their faith, and thus Paul’s labor would have been in vain. I am deeply challenged by the attitude of Paul and his team; overwhelmingly, it is dominated by caring for and nurturing the Thessalonians’ faith. Similarly, our concern must be to prepare the world for the coming of Christ.
When Timothy returned with a positive report about the Thessalonian Christians, Paul describes how the team celebrated with joy:
“Therefore, brothers and sisters, in all our distress and affliction we were encouraged about you through your faith. For now, we live, if you stand firm in the Lord. How can we thank God for you in return for all the joy we experience?” (1Thessalonians 3:7-9)
To Paul and his team, the steadfastness of the faith of the Thessalonian Christians was life; he explained, “Now, we live.” What a passion!
Such celebration is for us, as well!
Jesus describes the incomparable joy in heaven over one sinner who repents (Luke 15:7); should there be anything for us to celebrate more than the increase of God’s kingdom?
The report of the Thessalonian Christians further spurs Paul and his team to deep and fervent prayers.
“[A]s we pray very earnestly night and day to see you face to face and complete what is lacking in your faith.” (1Thessalonians 3:10) What a commitment!
Doesn’t this kind of zeal challenge us?
Sisters, it’s time for us, like Paul, to step into Jesus’ commission and commit ourselves to disciple-making. Like Paul and his team, may our hearts burn in prayer “day and night” for those we know are perishing without Jesus.
What joy shall it be, when we see such people repenting and growing strong in their faith! Such great rejoicing will be ours when, at last, Jesus says to us,
“Well done, my faithful servant!”
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!