“So when we could stand it no longer, we thought it best to be left by ourselves in Athens. We sent Timothy, who is our brother and co-worker in God’s service is spreading the gospel of Christ to strengthen and encourage you in your faith, so that no one would be unsettled by these trials. “
1 Thessalonians 3:1-3
This last year, has been challenging for us all with the pandemic and it will have affected us all in different ways. Some folks, living on their own, unable to socialise, unable to go to church, because of age, infirmity or vulnerability. Many folks we have spoken to, are just longing to have a cuddle, to feel loved by others. As Christians, we know that Jesus embraces us, and keeps us under the shadow of His wing. Psalm 91
However as humans, we were created to have fellowship with one another. Thank God for social media and the internet, but not everybody is fortunate to have these facilities, especially those of the mature generation!
Paul and his companions had arrived in Thessalonica on his second missionary journey in AD 58, and planted the first church in that city. It was also a sea port, trade centre, on the NW corner of the Aegean sea in Greece.
Previously, Paul had been with his followers in Philippi, and were treated outrageously. 1 Thessalonians 2 : “For we wanted to come to you, certainly I, Paul did, again and again, but Satan blocked our way.”
So, Paul sent Timothy to visit, to strengthen and encourage them in their faith, so that no one would be unsettled by these trials.
Building Each Other Up
As Christians, we all have seasons in our lives of discouragement, opposition and separation.
Many folks are starved of encouragement and acceptance. Our stiff British upper lip, denies us from admitting our needs. We are afraid of being thought of as weak, or being rejected. We all need each other, we are all equal in God’s sight.
“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other, so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” James 5:16.
“Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.” John 13:16.
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just in fact you are doing” 1 Thessalonians 5:11. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in trouble, with the comfort with which we are comforted by God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4.
Fruit From our Labours
he dictionary defines encouragement like this. “If someone is encouraged, by something that happens, it gives them hope and confidence.”
For example, by telling them what they are doing is good, and telling them, that they should not give up if things are not going so well! Victory in Jesus, will come if we persevere and “keep pressing on.”
My wife was given a prophecy many years ago. “Don’t let a day go by without blessing somebody.”
She has endeavoured to do that either by prayer, phone, text letter etc, regardless of perhaps needing encouragement herself.
Paul states in 1Thessalonians 3:10 : “Night and day, we pray most earnestly that we may see you again and again, and supply what is lacking in your faith. It brings joy to a Christian, to see fruit from their labours.”
Paul had experienced this joy countless times. Only God can change a persons life. But He will use His people to be an instrument in the process to do it. If you don’t like what you are reaping, change what you are sowing! It is not enough just to be courteous to others, [we actively have to show unconditional love.
Having an Increase of God’s Love
1 Thessalonians 3:12 : Paul continues, “May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for, everyone also, just as ours does for you.”
Only God can increase our love for one another. How?
Jesus said “If you have love for one another they will know that you are My disciples.” John 13:35
People will be attracted to you. It has been difficult during lock-down, to express our love to others. However, ask the Lord, who needs encouragement today. Send a text, card, or ring them, just to tell them you were thinking of them.
If your capacity to love has waned, ask God to fill you again with His never ending supply. Paul says;
“I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me” Philippians 4:13
Finally, v13 “May He strengthen your hearts, so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of God and Father, when our Lord Jesus comes with His holy ones.”