Today, I am going to return to Paul’s first letter to the church at Thessalonica and our regular routine of devotionals until at least we finish this book.
Your life is a testimony. Do you know what that means? When we talk about your life being a testimony it means that the way you live, respond, and behave, and what you choose to do affects people around you and shows your faith more clearly than merely your words. Do you know how much your life lived as a testimony can encourage the brothers and sisters around you? I have experienced that, especially lately.
Paul wanted very much to visit the church and see how himself how they were doing, but he was unable to so he sent Timothy. Verses 1-5 read,
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.
Timothy’s life had a great impact on people. His faith and perseverance was a great comfort to Paul. He knew he could trust this man because Timothy proved his trust worthiness in how he lived. Paul described Timothy as “our brother.” He meant that clearly Timothy’s life was a testimony to Jesus Christ. No one could question his salvation. He meant that they were united and together with the church a family with God as Father. Ephesians 4:23-25 reminds us we are new and belong to one another.
assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires,23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. 25 Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.
Paul called Timothy “God’s coworker” not just his partner or a fellow worker to the church but God’s coworker. When we are pursuing God’s will, when we are fulfilling the great commission, we are working with The LORD. God’s will is for our sanctification, that all people be saved, and that we have a genuine relationship with Him (1 Thessalonians 4:3, 2 Peter 3:9, Hosea 6:6). We are going about our Father’s business. Have you ever considered yourself that way? We are family and we are partners and collaborators with God! And Timothy’s life proved that unity of Spirit and purpose.
It is not only our lives lived as individuals that encourages others, but our lives lived as the church that encourages. Verses 6-10 read,
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?
Both as individuals and the body we need to remember one another. Not simply think of others but act on those thoughts, reach out, make a phone call, drop an email, send a text or a message, or visit. Paul sent Timothy to Thessalonica and the Thessalonians sent their regards and thoughts to Paul. While I was recently absent and unable to do these devotionals I had people reach out to me and it was so encouraging to know I was loved and cared about. People called me, visited me and wrote me messages to check on me. there were times when those texts, calls or visits came at times when I desperately needed the comfort. You, my brothers and sisters and coworkers with God answered the call of the Holy Spirit and I thank you. This is something I hope and strive to do and I hope that we all try to do more intentionally.
Standing fast in the Lord as the Thessalonians did can also be a comfort and encouragement to people. First, let me clarify what standing fast in the Lord means. It means to firmly remain, to hold your position, or persevere and refuse to be defeated. So it means we are not giving into temptation, letting difficulty and pain overwhelm us, or allowing circumstances to falter us. How can that be an encouragement to others? 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 says,
Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. 14 Let all that you do be done in love.
When I see your faith remain in the face of hardship, I see what the Lord is doing for you and in you and that reminds me of what He can do for me. I met someone recently who went through a horrific ordeal. She was of course shaken and hurt but she was still faithful. While I was supposed to be comforting her, she was encouraging me and she had no idea. Her faith bolstered mine and mine bolstered hers. I know so many people who are suffering terribly, yet they stand fast. They are models for me to follow. They are inspirations to keep walking the walk myself.
We give thanks for each other. As we pray throughout the day, we remember one another and give thanks to God for each other. This is one way we pray for each other but it is another way that God increases our joy and strengthens our faith. As I thank God for each of you, I am reminded I am not alone. I am part of a body, part of the church, and a member of a family.
Why do we do this? Verses 11-13 read,
Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you, 12 and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, 13 so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.
The more we live as a testimony to Christ, the more our love will grow for each other and the world. We will grow the Kingdom of God that way. People will take note of that awesome love which is so different from anything the world knows and they will want to be a part of it. John 13:34-35 says it this way,
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.
Not only that but as our love abounds, we become more conformed to the image of Christ, which means we become sanctified, purified like Jesus and we will be ready for that wonderful day when Jesus returns. 2 Thessalonians 3:3-5 reads,
But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one.4 And we have confidence in the Lord about you, that you are doing and will do the things that we command. 5 May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.
Believer, are you living your life as a testimony? Are you living as a member of this family and a coworker of God? Are you standing fast? Is your love growing day by day?