As an entering freshman in high school, I had signed up for French. My ears and brain did not comprehend a single word. Later, while living and working for two years in Central America, I quickly learned Spanish and enjoyed building new friendships in my adopted environment. The difference in these experiences was, of course, due to my immersion in the culture and lives of the people. People who invested their time, guided, and set an example for me and who I, in turn, could follow. I never learned to salsa dance, but I truly enjoyed learning Spanish and experiencing the culture of the region.
Who are the people you have aspired to follow and imitate in your family, career, and spiritual walk?
READ THE WORD: 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10 (ESV)
1:1 Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy,
To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:
Grace to you and peace.
2 We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, 3 remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. 4 For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5 because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. 6 And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, 7 so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. 8 For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything. 9 For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.
(Today’s questions focus on verses 6-10.)
- In this passage, Paul continued to praise and give thanks for the Thessalonians. What attitudes and actions of the believers did he describe, and why do these matter to Paul (vss. 6-9)?
- How did the faith of the Thessalonians impact their neighbors and people in surrounding regions (vss. 8-9)?
- If the knowledge of God is intended to lead to personal holiness, how was it manifested in the lives of these brothers and sisters in Christ (vs. 9)?
- In verse 10, Paul described the Thessalonians’ new way of living in faith and expectation of Christ’s return. How did this change their priorities and outlook of the future?
- Who are you imitating in your faith and to whom are you passing along your faith?
RESPOND TO GOD
The Thessalonian believers became examples to others, and the gospel message was spread throughout the region by the echoing news of their faith, joy, and proclamation of what God had done for them. It is revelatory to consider that God’s plan for the salvation of mankind includes the spreading of the gospel through the lives of believers. And it is sobering that, like the Thessalonians, others are supposed to be able to see Christ in us.
“You are writing a Gospel,
A chapter each day,
By deeds that you do,
By words that you say.
Men read what you write,
Whether faithless or true;
Say, what is the Gospel
According to you?”
- Pause today to reflect upon and give thanks for the believers whose lives reflected Christ to you.
- Pray for a winsome spirit to do likewise.