Maybe we spend too much time focused on what we are not doing or how we are not good enough. We could be more faithful. We could pray more. We could read scripture more. We could serve the poor more often. But that’s not the word I hear this morning in 1 Thessalonians. Paul is encouraged by what he hears about the Christians in Thessalonica.
We were encouraged about you because of your faith… you are standing firm in the Lord. (vs 7-8) They were a small group in a large city that not only did not share their belief in the resurrection of Jesus but they suffered as a result of their belief. And yet, they continued to believe and not quietly. They were sharing their new-found faith with others, some of whom also came to faith.
We don’t face the obstacles that they did. Our obstacles are more subtle or internal, but sometimes more difficult to overcome. So on this Monday morning, I am encouraged by those times when I have been faithful. This is not the time to pat myself on the back and tell the world what a model I am for Christianity in America – because I am not! With all humility, I am still encouraged when I see people standing firm in the Lord. Maybe for you that was going to church yesterday when everything within you was saying “It’s a beautiful day to do something else.” But you went to church anyway and to your surprise the worship experience has set the course for your week. Or maybe when faced with a frustrating situation or individual you did the most loving thing possible when that was not your first or even second inclination. But you did the most loving thing. It didn’t make everything better but it had an effect. Or you took a few minutes and came to this page. Maybe you haven’t been as diligent with the scripture readings as you had hoped when the year began, but today you picked up the Bible and you are reading this. That’s encouraging! Sometimes we need the kind of affirmation that Paul offers based on what Timothy has reported.
So, this morning, after reading Paul’s words to the Thessalonians, I took a long walk and I thought about all the ways I am encouraged by what I see happening in the lives of people around me, most especially the people I serve at Messiah Church. And with Paul, I am saying: How can (I) thank God enough for you in return for all the joy (I) have in the presence of our God because of you?
How encouraged I am because of you! Amen.