We lived in Western Europe well before the Internet and cell phones were widely used. As a result, communication with friends and family was limited to expensive phone calls, letters, or a long flight “home.” When we received a call or letter, not to mention a visit, we were filled with joy. In Paul and Timothy’s day, good news from a far-off country was limited to either a “there-and-back” messenger or a personal visit, both of which could take weeks or longer. Paul was so concerned for and so missed those in Thessalonica that he sent Timothy to encourage them. Timothy’s return news gave Paul joy and comfort as “cold water to a thirsty soul.”
- Think back to a time when you really missed someone close to you. How would you describe your feelings?
READ THE WORD: 1 Thessalonians 3:1-10 (ESV)
3:1 Therefore when we could bear it no longer, we were willing to be left behind at Athens alone, 2 and we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s coworker in the gospel of Christ, to establish and exhort you in your faith, 3 that no one be moved by these afflictions. For you yourselves know that we are destined for this. 4 For when we were with you, we kept telling you beforehand that we were to suffer affliction, just as it has come to pass, and just as you know. 5 For this reason, when I could bear it no longer, I sent to learn about your faith, for fear that somehow the tempter had tempted you and our labor would be in vain.
6 But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and has brought us the good news of your faith and love and reported that you always remember us kindly and long to see us, as we long to see you— 7 for this reason, brothers, in all our distress and affliction we have been comforted about you through your faith. 8 For now we live, if you are standing fast in the Lord. 9 For what thanksgiving can we return to God for you, for all the joy that we feel for your sake before our God, 10 as we pray most earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith?
(Today’s questions focus on verses 6-10.)
- Try to put yourself in Paul’s shoes and imagine you couldn’t reach family or dear friends without arduous effort. What would you be feeling and willing to do to get word to them or hear from them?
- What was it about Timothy’s news that comforted Paul in his own “distress and affliction”?
- What was Paul’s reaction to Timothy’s “good news” and what did he do?
- As news of the Thessalonians’ walk with Christ encouraged Paul, how have others challenged and encouraged you in your Christian life?
RESPOND TO GOD
Timothy returned with good news! This comforted and encouraged Paul in his afflictions so much so that on hearing it he said, “Now we live.” Paul immediately began to thank God and pray to see his Christian brothers and sisters in Thessalonica face-to-face so he might encourage them in their faith. Today, “good news” continues to encourage, strengthen, and comfort, and reminds us to take the initiative to communicate with those close to us, especially Christian friends. We are reminded to pray that they would be strengthened, and to seek to encourage them in their faith.
- Pray that your walk with Christ would grow and impact your relationships with family and friends so that they might be strengthened and encouraged in their faith, and that others might come to know him whom you serve.