We continue today to explore the heart of a leader for his people through our series in 1st Thessalonians.
“For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything. For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you urned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.”
RIPPLES AND ROCKS
When I was young I loved to throw rocks into still water and watch the ripples move. They seemed like tiny uniformed waves easing steadily along the quiet surface of the lake. This in many ways is the same movement that occurs when the gospel is thrown into a group of people. There is a ripple of change lives that spreads because of the gospel message.
The lives of the Thessalonians were so transformed by the gospel, that it literally sounded forth all the way to Macedonia and Achaia. Can you imagine what it would be like to have God’s work in your life reach the ears of people in another country? That’s a glimpse of what is happening here. Paul’s broader goals of exhortation and edification direct the Thessalonians to see their changed lives. This not only validates the message the Apostles shared but also the apostles themselves.
What might these changed lives look like in our ministry? At it’s core level it’ll be evidenced by people turning away from idolatry to serve, love and enjoy Jesus in anticipation of His return. Whenever we hear a story of someone refusing to walk in greed but rather released into generosity, or rejecting a self-serving approach to relationships in light of a other-serving Jesus, we’ll take note that this is the power of the gospel at work! In each of these moments we ought to celebrate and see these as tiny ripples of the work of the gospel.
OUR OWN BACKYARD
Here’s where I want to encourage you. In our social media age it’s quite easy to hear stories of God at work in other ‘lands’ and dismiss what’s happening in our own. It can even seem like more is happening “out there” than it is “in here”. The truth can be that our “in here” is actually someone else’s “out there”. We become so accustomed to looking beyond to see God at work that we overlook the very life changing work he’s doing in our community. What we see in this text reminds us to reflect on the work He’s doing in our own backyard and to see where the truths of the gospel are at work. Even if the ripple is small, it’s still evidence of God at work. Our task is to look for these moments, cherish them dearly and cultivate them continually.
THE TAKE HOME
Leader, be encouraged through the evidence of lives changed by the gospel.