This devotional is about 1 Thessalonians 1.
Yesterday we read Acts 18 but, instead of going on to Acts 19, we’re reading 1 Thessalonians today. Why? Because scholars believe that Paul wrote 1 Thessalonians while Paul was in Corinth as described inn Acts 18. So, that’s why we’ll divert our attention from Acts to read 1 Thessalonians over the next few days. Then we’ll get back to Acts.
Paul had concerns about the church in Thessalonica, but he had no direct rebuke for them in this book we call 1 Thessalonians. That’s one thing that sets this book of the Bible apart from Paul’s other letters. Here in chapter 1, Paul expresses great confidence in the salvation of the Thessalonian believers. He said, “we know… that he [God] has chosen you” (v. 4). The reason he was so confident is “because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction” (v. 5). and because “…you became imitators of us and of the Lord…” (v. 6). All the signs of new spiritual life obvious–abundant, even–in the lives of these believers. This spiritual work of God happened despite “severe suffering” (v. 6b) which Luke wrote about in Acts 17.
All of that gave Paul great joy and made him very thankful (v. 2) for God’s work in their lives. But, after Paul left Thessalonica, the situation only got better. They were such godly “imitators of us and of the Lord” (v. 6a) that they “…became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia” (v. 7). Macedonia and Achaia are regions of Greece and the city of Thessalonica is located in Macedonia. It would be similar to Paul saying to our church, “You have become a model to all believers in Washtenaw and Monroe counties, and even throughout all of Michigan and Ohio.”
In a pre-Internet, pre-broadcast age, how was the faith of these believers spreading so quickly and so widely? The answer is that they were vocal about it. Verse 8 says, “The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia—your faith in God has become known everywhere.” The key phrase there is “The Lord’s message rang out from you” (v. 8a). In other words, they were talking about Christ and how they had come to know him in salvation. That’s what made them a model church. They not only received the gospel, they talked about the gospel and lived it out in obedience.
Is that true of us? Do people know that we’re Christians–not just because we go to church and don’t do some of the sinful things they do–but because we talk about the life-changing grace of God in salvation and how it has saved us and changed our lives?
The Thessalonians’ lives were changed. They turned away from idols to serve God (v. 9) and they were waiting for Christ’s return (v. 10). But they talked about Jesus with others in addition to living godly lives. God saved us not only so that we would worship him but so that we would spread the good news about him so that others will come to worship him as well.
Do you talk about Christ and offer the gospel to the non-Christians in your life? This is God’s will for us. Let’s look for ways to share his saving word with others.