We women have a natural tendency to encourage and congratulate others, to look for ways to acknowledge others achievements. We do it as mothers, sisters and friends. We will even do it for a perfect stranger! Why do we do this? We do this because we know that it will make someone feel good about what they have done, how far they have come and it will make them want to continue to do it.
Paul, Silus, and Timothy looked at the Thessalonians and did the very same thing! They sang the praises of the church in Thessalonica because they were once idol worshippers turned true believers (1:9). Considering that a group of people began there, it would be easy to think that without constant supervision or encouragement, that they would fall back to what they knew. Isn’t that what we saw throughout the Old Testament? The Children of Israel were constantly backsliding so much that Jeremiah 2:19 tells us “Your own wickedness will correct you, And your backsliding will rebuke you. Know therefore and see that it is and evil and bitter thing, that you have forsaken the Lord your God, and the fear of Me is not in you says the Lord of Host.” It is pretty obvious from listening to Paul’s letter that this is not the case with the Thessalonians. In chapter 1:2 he begins with telling them that he constantly bears in mind their faith and steadfastness of hope in Jesus Christ.
Consider this ladies; if this letter were written to you personally, would these same words be written?
Their faith is further praised by Paul in 1 Thessalonians 1:6, they are being commended for having become imitators of the faithful and going on to become examples themselves. Imagine the compliment this would have been for them! To know that not only had they come far, but now they were worthy of being examples to others. Being in the region of Greece which was saturated with worldly ideals, false idols and an “anything-goes” mentality, how easy would it have been to revert or even slowly let these ways seep in to their lives? They had persecution to deal with, and yet, they held fast to their faith.
Ladies, if this letter would have been personally written about you, would these same words have been written?
Paul sent Timothy to check on the Thessalonians and to encourage them. They were very pleasantly surprised when this was not needed, but in fact it became the opposite, encouraging Paul instead! In 1 Thessalonians 3:8 Paul tells them, “for now we really live, if you stand firm in the Lord.” How much better would it be to hear someone say that to you? You are an encouragement to me, the one who has taught you.
Ladies, are you an encouragement by the example of your faith? Would Paul be comforted by your lifestyle and conduct? Would he have written these same words?
1 Thessalonians 4:1 starts with Paul saying, “Finally then, brethren, we request and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us instruction as to how you ought to walk and please God (just as you actually do walk), that you excel still more. Wait, what? Didn’t Paul just go on and on about what great Christians they are? Are you kidding me? That is not enough? Hear me on this ladies: “good enough” is not good enough in our faith! Faith is not a destination; it is a way to get to the destination! Paul then goes on to give a list of commands that are to be followed. We could lose faith in that alone couldn’t we? A compliment and then a list of other things to do? But Paul goes on in 1 Thessalonians 4:9,10 to say that they don’t need to be instructed on brotherly love as they practice it regularly. The acknowledgement that their work and faith is acceptable is still there!
Once again ladies, would the compliments be fitting to you? Would these words have been written to and about you?
Finally, Paul ends the letter with a heart stopping statement. Chapter 5 verse 24 says, “Faithful is He who calls you, He will also bring it to pass.” Oh wait, we spent all this time talking about our faithfulness and now we are talking about Gods’ faithfulness? When we bring them side by side, we have much to live up to; we have much to excel still more in! Lest the Thessalonians feel prideful about their faith and walk, in comparison to our Lord’s faith, it is small still.
Let us do as the Thessalonians and excel still more, working hard to follow the example of what is good, becoming good examples of faith ourselves. We can be an encouragement to those around us when they see our steadfastness and our love for Jesus. And let us do this for the one who is faithful to us.
I leave you with this thought; let us be worthy of being called faithful. For if tomorrow they were to write about you, let these words be written.
By Fee Rocha
Fee and Dustin Rocha are recent graduates of the Bear Valley Bible Institute of Denver. They are working with a congregation in Sidney, NE. They have three great children, whom Fee homeschools: Setti, Hugh and Adam. Dustin is Fee’s biggest literary fan, and she in turn cooks for him.