We are breaking from our readings in Acts to look through some parts of the Thessalonian letters, which probably date from Paul’s time in Corinth. He has been anxiously waiting for news of whether the persecution there (Acts 17:5-10) has caused the new converts to abandon their faith. Finally he has received a good report from Silas and Timothy (Acts 18:5) and he writes to encourage the Thessalonians. “We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ”(1 Thess 1:2-3). Paul is encouraged by them and wants to encourage them further.
Especially is Paul excited that “you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia”(1 Thess 1:6-7). Their conversion in the midst of such opposition has become the talk of the region. “For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we do not need to say anything”(1 Thess 1:8-9). Other people are talking about these new Christians so much that Paul they tell Paul about them instead of Paul telling them! Many people are telling “how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God”(1 Thess 1:9) and are encouraged by their change of heart.
When Paul says that their faith has gone forth, he does not mean that they are preaching the gospel. He is referring to their example of faith-filled obedience that has precipitated a complete change in life. We can learn (at least) two things here. My life of obedience can bless others, even though I may not know them. And it is always encouraging to hear that others are spreading good gossip about us.
------------- One Thing to Think About: If other people were to talk about my faith, what would they say?
One Thing to Pray For: A willingness to spread good gossip about others
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