1 Thessalonians 3:6
But now Timothy has returned to us from you. He has brought us the good news of your faith—and your love; he has told us that you always have good memories of us, and that you are longing to see us, just as we are to see you.
Did you know that First Thessalonians is the oldest letter written by the apostle Paul that we have?
And did you know that First Thessalonians is the first Christian writing in existence that we know of?
Paul wrote it in A.D. 51 to the church in Thessalonica (modern day Thessaloniki) about six months after he founded it.
So what was the occasion for writing the oldest Christian letter in existence?
Being overjoyed by a good report.
I like that!
Paul was forced to leave Thessalonica sooner than he desired, due to persecution. He knew it would be tough for the Thessalonians too, and was growing concerned over their spiritual lives. So he sent Timothy back to check on them and encourage them so they wouldn’t be pulled off course by their sufferings.
Timothy returned to Paul with very good news of their faith and their love, still intact.
Paul must have been ecstatic!
In response, he penned this letter, the oldest extant Christian writing, in order to further encourage them in their faith in Christ, love for each other, and giving thanks always.
It’s interesting to ponder that this first Christian letter was written to a community who was actually doing well, for the purpose of expressing joy over them, thankfulness for them, and encouragement to keep going, to stay on target.
I see from this the great need to encourage those who are faithful, who are doing good day after day, not in an obvious faith crisis or trauma, and how they need to be spurned on like anybody else.
We all need encouragement in the Lord. It’s amazing how just some notice and acknowledgment can invigorate you to keep on going. Many of you have emailed how you’ve been encouraged by one or more of these writings, and you just don’t know how uplifting that is. Yes, we perform for an audience of One, yet we also are inspired through one another as we thoughtfully bestow blessing—God’s smile—upon one another.
It’s easy to overlook those who are doing just fine.
Who can you encourage today who seems to be doing well?
Abounding in the work of the Lord is only one step removed from abandoning the work of the Lord through complacency.
~Bruce Wilkinson & Kenneth Boa