The selfless concern of the missionaries is noted by their willingness to temporarily separate from one another in order to encourage the believers in Thessalonica. They rejoiced in the faith demonstrated by these young believers, but they also knew Satan’s determination to destroy them as well as the trouble that was stirred up by their countrymen.
The missionaries could accomplish more by staying together as they continued their ministry toward the South. They understood the wisdom of Solomon’s statement –
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.
– even so, they decided against that which would be convenient for them, manifesting their love and concern for those that had trusted the Lord for salvation.
Their placement of care for others above themselves leads us to –
A. Their Decision 1 Thessalonians 3:1-5
The missionaries understood that the Lord would take care of His children, but He also taught them an important lesson – the Lord uses the mature believers to care for the young. The Lord works through His people!
Romans 15:1-3 (KJV) We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification. For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me.
Ephesians 4:11-13 (KJV) And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
Based on this truth –
The missionaries determined that they needed to share what they had learned through the grace of God in their lives. Notice that each had been strengthened by the Lord as they faced dangerous, life threatening situations.
At Damascus, escaping for his life by being lowered over the wall in a basket.
At Jerusalem, not being trusted by the brethren.
At Lystra, being dragged out of the city, stoned by the crowd, and left for dead.
At Philippi, being humiliated, beaten, and put in prison.
At Jerusalem, suffering with the brethren as outcast from the Jews.
At Philippi, with Paul in being humiliated, beaten, and imprisoned.
As a resident of Lystra, observed the treatment of Paul and Barnabas.
As a partner in the work at Philippi, observed Paul and Silas suffering at the hands of the people.
These men experienced the grace and mercy of God and determined that they had to share the faithfulness of God with others. They knew the truth that Peter stated –
1 Peter 4:13-14 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.
In returning to Macedonia, they would –
1. Confirm them in their walk. (Establish) 1 Thessalonians 3:1,2a
Ephesians 5:1 Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;
2. Comfort them, which involves admonition and consolation. 1 Thessalonians 3:2b
1 Corinthians 15:57-58 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.
3. Commit themselves to the Lord. 1 Thessalonians 3:3-5 In this decision, we see –
a. The Attitude
Paul used an interesting word here when he exhorted them not “to be moved by these afflictions…”. The word ‘moved’ is a description of a dog wagging its tail. The dog wags its tail as an emotional response. Paul is reminding these believers that they do not have to respond emotionally to the afflictions they will face when they are confirmed in their way, comforted in their knowledge of the Lord and committed to His purpose for their lives.
b. The Agreement.
Because of the missionary’s knowledge of God’s working in their lives, they were agreed in sending Timothy to the Thessalonians to help them “we”, and Silas also returned to those in Macedonia to help them leaving Paul alone (“I”) in Athens and then on to Corinth.
The missionaries knew the difficulties that this decision involved, but they also knew through God’s working in their lives that it was important to slow down, separate, and help the brethren.
c. The Application. They needed to listen to their own message and apply it to their lives!
Paul revealed his emotional state to the Corinthians as he entered into the ministry to them without his companions in the work –
1 Corinthians 2:3 And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.
– but was determined to listen to his own message and not be “moved” (directed by emotions) from his course. Always remember the Lord’s response to Paul’s fear –
Acts 18:9-10 Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city.
The Lord’s promises are sure and we need to apply them to our lives –
2 Timothy 1:12-14 For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. Hold fast the form of sound words…
Learn the lesson that they learned – put others before ourselves. Step outside our areas of comfort and trust the Lord. Here, early in their ministry, the Lord taught them that they could not always do that which was convenient or comfortable. Many times they would be inconvenienced and uncomfortable, but it was necessary and, therefore, good and ultimately brought glory to God.
2 Timothy 4:16-17 At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge. Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.
God is faithful, always! Will you trust Him today to step out and do His will for your Lives?