Monday, August 29, 2022
Yesterday, we read about how the Thessalonians turned from their idols to serve the one true God. However, this caused some problems to arise for them. Those around them still worshiped the idols and chose to persecute them. But Paul has advice for them on how to continue to stand firm in their faith in the midst of all this opposition.
At the very beginning of the chapter, in the first two verses, Paul explains that they came to witness to the Thessalonians right after they had faced persecution in Philippi. Paul says that in Philippi they faced much suffering and mistreatment. He continues to say that in Thessaloniki they continued to face lots of opposition when they worked to spread the gospel.
Many people would have stopped after facing serious persecution in one city. Many more would have stopped when they saw the opposition against them in the next city. But Paul and his companions continued to spread the gospel throughout all these hardships. By telling the Thessalonians about his problems, Paul encourages them by showing that it is possible, when you have God, to stand firm in the faith and to continue doing God’s will. We should let this also encourage us because we know that Paul, in the midst of all the troubles of this world, continued to be one of the greatest witnesses to the whole world.
Paul continues by describing their attitudes in sharing the gospel, even while they were faced with persecution. In verse 7, he describes themselves as “gentle among [them], as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children.” Paul, later in verse 12, explains why they acted in that manner. He says that it was “so that [the Thessalonians] would walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls [them] into His own kingdom and glory.”
In the midst of suffering and persecution, many people would have acted in anger against those who were causing this. However, by doing this you are more likely to drive people away from God than you would be to bring them to Him. But, when you act as Paul and his companions did, being gentle in the midst of persecution, you become an imitator of God, showing love to those who are your enemies. Through this love, people will come to know God and walk in the way that God has called them to walk.
While this letter may have been written to the Thessalonians, it doesn’t apply only to them. We also need to make sure that we are not letting persecution stop us from doing God’s will. When we continue to do the work that God has called us to do in the midst of opposition, we need to make sure that we do it in the attitude of love and gentleness.
Questions for Reflection and Discussion
- What encouragement do you gain from hearing Paul’s testimony?
- Can you think of a time you faced opposition while spreading the gospel? Did it stop you – or did you continue, with God’s help? If you can’t think of a time you were spreading the gospel – how can you start now?
- Paul says, “We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts” (1 Thessalonians 2:4 NIV). Can you say the same? Are there any areas where you slip into people pleasing mode rather than concentrating on what God wants to see from you? How does this relate to spreading the gospel?