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love's Introduction



Paul sends this letter to the church at Thessalonica which he describes “which is in God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” God was the very atmosphere in which the church lived and moved and had its being. Just as the air is in us and we are in the air and cannot live without it, so the true church is in God and God is in the true church and there is no true life for the church without God.

Further, the God in whom the church lives is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; and, therefore, the church does not shiver in the fear of a God who is a tyrant, but she basks in the sunshine of a God who is love.

In verse 3 of chapter 1, Paul emphasizes three great parts of the Christian life.

First, there is work that is inspired by faith. Much is learned about a man by the way he works. He may work from fear or a sense of duty. He may work for the hope of gain. He may work because he is inspired by faith. His faith is that this is the task given to him by God. He is working in the last analysis not for men but for God.

Second, there is the labor which is prompted by love. Bernard Newman tells how once he stayed in a Bulgarian peasant’s house. All the time he was there the daughter was stitching away making a dress. He said to her, “Don’t you ever get tired of all that sewing?” “Oh, no,” she said, “you see, this is my wedding dress.” Work don for love always has a glory.

Third, there is endurance which is founded on hope. As Alexander the Great was setting out on his campaigns, he divided all his possessions among his friends. Someone said to him, “But you are keeping nothing for yourself.” “Oh, yes, I am,” he replied. “I have kept on hopes.”

A man can endure anything as long as he has hope. With hope, we are walking into the light rather than into the night.

In verse 4 Paul speaks of the Thessalonians as brothers beloved by God. That phrase was one which the Jews applied only to supremely great men like Moses and Solomon, and to the nation of Israel itself. Now the greatest privilege of the greatest men of God’s chosen people has been extended to the humblest of the Gentiles.

Verse 8 speaks of the Thessalonians sounding forth like a trumpet; the work could also mean crashing out like a roll of thunder. There is something tremendous about the sheer defiance of early Christianity. When all prudence would have dictated a way of life that would escape notice and so avoid danger and persecution, the Christians blazoned forth their faith. They were never ashamed to show who they were and whom they sought to serve.

Finally, in verses 9 and 10 two words are used which are characteristic of the Christian life. The Thessalonians served God and waited on the coming of Christ. The Christian is called upon to serve in the world and to wait for glory. The loyal service and the patient waiting were the necessary preludes to the glory of heaven.

Gary’s Wednesday Word

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