by Tim Howe
In 1 Thessalonians 1:2-10 the apostle Paul expresses his gratitude for the Thessalonians' concern for him and for their partnership in the ministry he has been involved in.
Paul shares in the first three verses of 1 Thessalonians chapter 1 how they give thanks to God always for all of the Thessalonians, constantly mentioning them in prayer. You’ll notice that he emphasizes the fervency of his gratefulness three times. He says, all and constantly in one sentence to bring attention to the fact that he is extremely grateful for them. Paul goes to lengths to tell his readers how much he thinks of them. In the same way, I am thankful for so many people in my life that have continuously demonstrated love to my family. We always thank God for all of you constantly. There is no halfway in our thankfulness for you. It is complete.
His thankfulness is for more than just warm happy thoughts on behalf of the Thessalonians. He appreciates their actions not just their sentiments. Paul does not say that he appreciates their “faith, love and hope.” These are clearly the central tenets of the Christian Faith and Paul would have been right to point them out, but Paul goes even further. He says that he is grateful for their work of faith, labor of love, and endurance of hope. Faith, love and hope are what motivate a Christian to serve. The actions are work, labor & endurance. Paul is grateful not just that they have faith in God, but that their faith has caused them to change the way that they live.
Paul expresses the reason they live this way when he commends their “steadfastness” of hope. Steadfastness of hope is not the maintaining of a wish, but it is confident expectation. It is not wishful thinking, but holding onto an assurance that God is doing something.
In 1 Thessalonians 1:4-10 Paul changes his focus from appreciation to affirmation. He has expressed very well the ways in which he is grateful for the Thessalonians. Now, he goes on to affirm them. When faith & love are evidenced in word and deed, when hope enables endurance, we have cause for joyful thanksgiving and an obligation to affirm fellowship.
Beginning verse 4, Paul affirms eight different things about the Thessalonians. He affirms that:
(1) God had chosen them which was indicated by the fact that God’s
power was evident among them.
(2) They were people of deep conviction.
(3) They tried to imitate Paul in seeking after godliness.
(4) They welcomed the gospel in joy even under much affliction.
(5) They carried the gospel to others, eventually to far away places.
(6) They served as an example for others; they had a good reputation.
(7) They served the Living and True God; they had a vibrant faith.
(8) They were waiting on the Lord Jesus, with the same sort of
expectant hope that he commends them for in verse 3.
On Thanksgiving, may you be affirmed in each of these areas as well.
Make the Power of God is evident where you are.
Be people of deep conviction.
Be imitators of the Lord.
Welcome the Gospel to new places.
Personally carry the Gospel to others.
Have a good reputation.
Serve the Living and True God.
Wait for Jesus.
May God Bless you all this Thanksgiving