1 & 2 Thessalonians

by Sim Kay Tee

Day 2

Read 1 Thessalonians 1:2-3

The chairman of the board of elders had convened an emergency meeting to address the deteriorating state of the church. Its leaders had used various numerical ″performance indicators″ to measure the spiritual health of the church, such as worship attendance and financial giving, and the numbers were not good-both had plummeted to their lowest in the church's 60-year history.

For Paul, the measure of a church growing and maturing in the faith was not in numbers, but in faithful work, loving deeds, and enduring hope.

I wonder how they would have assessed the Thessalonian church Paul had co-founded. Would Paul have seen and addressed such problems in a similar way? Or was his approach different?

Paul was a caring pastor. He had ministered in Thessalonica for several months, and after he was forced to leave the city abruptly, he continued his pastoral ministry by praying for the church continually (1 Thessalonians 1:2). To encourage the believers, Paul assured them that he held them close to his heart, praying for them earnestly and constantly (3:10). This was something he did for all his spiritual children.

Paul begins his letter by thanking God for the spiritual growth of the Thessalonian church and commending her members in three specific areas-their ″faithful work″, ″loving deeds″, and ″enduring hope″ (1:3, NLT).

Faithful work: The Thessalonian believers were well known for their work resulting from their faith in God (v. 8). Their faithful and exemplary lives were motivated by God's unconditional love (v. 3). Elsewhere, Paul spoke of such work as ″faith expressing itself through love″ (Galatians 5:6).

Loving deeds: Loving is hard, and was not something the Thessalonian believers could naturally do. Rather, they had to learn to love and learn to love better. Paul would later note that they had ″been taught by God to love each other″ and would pray that their love would ″increase and overflow″ (1 Thessalonians 4:9; 3:12). It is no wonder that Paul called their work a ″labour of love″ (1:3, ESV).

Enduring hope: Paul intentionally affirms Christ's return at the end of each chapter in 1 Thessalonians (1:10; 2:19; 3:13; 4:15; 5:23). By praising the Thessalonian believers' endurance, Paul was acknowledging their faithfulness, thus encouraging them to continue leading holy lives as they waited for Christ to return (3:13; 5:23).

For Paul, the measure of a church growing and maturing in the faith was not in numbers, but in faithful work, loving deeds, and enduring hope.

Think through:

Can attendance numbers at services (and prayer meetings) or financial giving statistics be considered as good measures of a church's growth and maturity? Why or why not?

Would ″faithful work, loving deeds, and enduring hope″ (1 Thessalonians 1:3, NLT) be appropriate ways to measure the progress of your home church? Why or why not?




About Author

Sim Kay Tee is a Bible teacher and writer of Our Daily Bread Ministries. Based in Singapore, K.T. writes for the Discovery Series Bible Study guides, the Journey Through Series devotional, and is a regular contributor to the Insights for Our Daily Bread. K.T. has taught the Bible in various countries. He has three daughters and one granddaughter.

Author of Journey Through Series:

Our Daily Bread Journey Through® Series is a publication of Our Daily Bread Ministries.

We exist to help make the life-changing wisdom of the Bible understandable and accessible to all.

Rights and Permissions  |  Terms and Conditions  |  Privacy Policy