“We ought always to thank God for you, brothers, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing. Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring. All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you” (2 Thessalonians 1:3-6).
Too often life among God’s churches is far removed from the home on the range, you know, “where seldom is heard a discouraging word.” To hear some tell it, anytime you see a church that is thriving, the reason must be they have abandoned the truth. The idea of there being a church where faith is growing more and more, and where love is increasing, is to them, just foreign. To hear others tell it, anytime you see a church suffering, the reason must be because they haven’t embraced the truth. The idea of there being a faithful church having to hold on through tough times of trial is to them, just foreign.
Too often when a church is going through a great time of spiritual growth the word circulating among the churches is negative. Perhaps there is a root problem of jealousy or bitterness. Maybe there is an unhealthy sense of competition spawning fear that another congregation’s successes somehow put us in a bad light. So to make ourselves look better, we throw out as many filthy rumors as we can about the other church and hope some of it sticks. And who knows, if some of it sticks maybe some of their members will come place membership with us since we are the only faithful and true congregation.
Too often when a church is going through a time of great persecution the word circulating among the churches is negative. Perhaps there again is a problem rooted in an unhealthy sense of competition. Maybe if we tell everybody what a rough time the other congregation is having we will look better. Why would anyone want to stay at a congregation facing all those problems? Maybe some of their members will get discouraged enough to come place membership with us.
Paul’s approach in the message he spread among the churches was different from what we sometimes experience. When a congregation experienced growth in love and faith Paul circulated a word of thanksgiving among the churches. Look at what God is doing through this church! Be thankful! And when a congregation experienced trials and suffering Paul circulated a word of encouragement among the churches. Look at their endurance! See how God is empowering them! And when Paul saw the church at Thessalonica enduring persecution and growing all the while he circulated a positive word among the churches.
“Therefore among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance. . . .(NIV)”
“We proudly tell God’s other churches about your endurance. . . .(NLT)”
“We tell everybody we meet in the churches all about you (MSG).”
Paul boasted about the congregation to other congregations assuming they would be overjoyed at what was happening. Paul did not spend his time here lashing out at those who troubled the churches. After all, he knew God as a just God, able to take care of those who stir up the trouble. Instead, Paul spent his time praising God for the wonderful things God was doing among His churches.
So let’s open our eyes to see God’s working among the churches. May the word that we spread among the churches be words of thanksgiving and praise for all God is doing.