“Word for Today” – 1 Thessalonians 3 – www.concordialutheranchurch.com

November 25, 2009 at 4:45 am Leave a comment


My wife Melody loves receiving presents.  Actually, that’s a bit of an understatement.  It’s more like she adores receiving presents.  Christmas, her birthday, Valentine’s Day, our anniversary – any time that a present looms on the horizon, her curious spirit begins to get the best of her and, several days before the presumed present arrives, she begins to prod me with questions concerning what her gift might be.  “Where did you buy it?” she’ll ask.  “How much did it cost?  Is it something I asked for?  What can I use it for?”  “I’m not giving you any hints,” I’ll usually respond coyly.  “We’re not playing twenty questions with your present.”

When the day for her present finally arrives, we never make it past breakfast before Melody is asking for her gift.  “I want to open my present now!” she’ll exclaim with an irresistible grin.  I can’t help it.  With a smile like hers, I melt and give her the gift.  Besides, by this point, her suspense has been building for weeks.  And now, Melody can stand it no longer.  Her curiosity is intense.  The time has come for her to open her present.  And when she does, she is always delighted.

In our reading for today from 1 Thessalonians 3, Paul expresses the same kind of suspense over the wellbeing of the Thessalonians that my wife expresses over the content of her presents.  Paul opens this chapter:

So when we could stand it no longer, we thought it best to be left by ourselves in Athens. We sent Timothy, who is our brother and God’s fellow worker in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith, so that no one would be unsettled by these trials. You know quite well that we were destined for them. In fact, when we were with you, we kept telling you that we would be persecuted. And it turned out that way, as you well know.  (verses 1-4)

“When we could stand it no longer,” Paul says in verse 1.  Paul and his companions are too worried about the Thessalonians’ faith, being tested by persecution at this time, not to check up on them.  And so they send Timothy to strengthen the Thessalonians in their faith and subsequently report back to Paul and his friends.

Interestingly, Paul is so concerned about the Thessalonians wellbeing, that he repeats his statement of suspense in verse 5:

For this reason, when I could stand it no longer, I sent Timothy to find out about your faith. I was afraid that in some way the tempter might have tempted you and our efforts might have been useless. (verses 1-5)

Notice the shift in the pronoun.  In verse 1, Paul says, “When we could stand it no longer.”  But now in verse 5, the concern is especially personal:  “When I could stand it no longer.”  Paul’s concern for the Thessalonians and their faith in and faithfulness to Christ is intense.

Blessedly, Paul receives a good report: “But Timothy has just now come to us from you and has brought good news about your faith and love” (verse 6).  You can almost hear Paul breathe a sigh of relief in this verse.  The Thessalonians’ faith is no longer a mystery to Paul.  Their faith has been “unwrapped,” so to speak, by Timothy and has been shown to be beautiful and strong.  And Paul is delighted.

Do you have the same concern for others’ spiritual wellbeing as Paul?  Does there ever come a time when “you can stand it no longer” and so you pick up the phone just to check on someone, or drop someone a note just to let them know that you’re praying for them, or plan a lunch with someone just to reflect with them on their walk with Christ?  Like Paul, I hope you have moments where someone else’s wellbeing keeps you so in suspense that “you can stand it no longer.”  For this is a suspense fueled by love.  In fact, why don’t you contact that person today?  After all, you may just be the person that God uses to strengthen someone’s faith, grow someone’s heart, or pilot someone through a time of trouble.  And who wouldn’t want to be used by God for a purpose transcendent as that?

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Entry filed under: Word for Today.

“Word for Today” – 1 Thessalonians 2 – www.concordialutheranchurch.com “Word for Today” – Thanksgiving Day – www.concordialutheranchurch.com

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