Sermon – July 12, 2020

1-2 Thessalonians

1 Thessalonians 3:6-13 – Thankfulness in Others (mp3)

We live in an age when good news seems mighty hard to come by. What’s more, we live in an age when good news is hardly waited for. If we want to hear from our loved ones, they are hardly ever more than a button push away. We find the lag time on email difficult to bear, let alone letters that need to be physically delivered. Paul had no such luxuries. He likely waited for months for the news of the Thessalonians to be delivered by Timothy, and he was not disappointed. It was good news all the way around. In 1 Thessalonians 3:6-13, we see Paul’s thankfulness in God’s kind provision, and see that we have much to gain from imitating him:

1. The report to Paul
Just as the gospel (=good news) had gone out to the Thessalonians, the report back to Paul that it was being held onto, and that in love, was nothing but a reverberation of the same good news. They had both good and right memories of Paul, who knew now that their roots were sunk deep into the good soil. The report to Paul was nothing but good news.

2. The result on Paul
So, Paul was comforted. It was not that they were physically okay (which they might not have been) or that their good report took away Paul’s bodily troubles (which they didn’t). Rather, the fact of their faith, and their escape from the wrath to come, was enough to sooth Paul’s discomforted heart, and give him comfort from his troubles. Perhaps we put too much emphasis on the body in our prayers and in our concerns for others. Let our comfort be guided by the Sprint, and not our physical desires or fears.

3. The response of Paul
Paul is, basically, quite thankful. But he quickly realizes that his thankfulness cannot be expressed in human language. It is an oddity, really, that the same words we use to thank someone for bringing us water we also use to thank the God who has purchased our salvation through his own blood. This, of course, doesn’t stop Paul from trying, as he thanks God continually for the Thessalonians (1:2). While he is thankful for them, his thankfulness is pointed toward God, from whom all good gifts come. We would do well to remember this – for nothing good that we receive has come from our own hands.

4. The request from Paul
It is somewhat startling that Paul, who can’t thank God enough, then turns around and makes requests from him! And, he requests basically the same things that he was just given, only in better form: A good report yes, but let us see them in person. Faith, good!, but let their love grow and be established. May the same be true of us – may Jesus clear our path always to meet together, and may we be established in our hearts by holiness in his presence!