When you think about the people around you, those who are part of your community, whose lives interact with yours, what is your overwhelming feeling?
The writer to the Thessalonians is thankful.
1 Thessalonians 1:1-10 (CEV)
1 From Paul, Silas, and Timothy.
To the church in Thessalonica, the people of God the Father and of the Lord Jesus Christ.
I pray that God will be kind to you and will bless you with peace!
2 We thank God for you and always mention you in our prayers. Each time we pray, 3 we tell God our Father about your faith and loving work and about your firm hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Thessalonians’ Faith and Example
4 My dear friends, God loves you, and we know he has chosen you to be his people. 5 When we told you the good news, it was with the power and assurance that come from the Holy Spirit, and not simply with words. You knew what kind of people we were and how we helped you. 6 So, when you accepted the message, you followed our example and the example of the Lord. You suffered, but the Holy Spirit made you glad.
7 You became an example for all the Lord’s followers in Macedonia and Achaia. 8 And because of you, the Lord’s message has spread everywhere in those regions. Now the news of your faith in God is known all over the world, and we don’t have to say a thing about it. 9 Everyone is talking about how you welcomed us and how you turned away from idols to serve the true and living God. 10 They also tell how you are waiting for his Son Jesus to come from heaven. God raised him from death, and on the day of judgment Jesus will save us from God’s anger.
Paul is in admiration of all they do. These people are a living example of living God’s way; they have been instrumental in changing other people’s live for the good; they live out their hope. He wants them to know that, but he also wants God to know how grateful he is. And his thanksgiving for them leads him to prayer for them.
It can be all too easy to take people for granted, to fail to see, or forget, the good they are doing. We can be distracted by irritations, petty jealousies or our own concerns, that in our own minds the good disappears. We do them, and God, a disservice.
Perhaps it is time to look again at the place we are, where we live out our lives and our faith. Who is there, doing sterling work? Do we notice? Take it for granted? Or assume it is our right that these things are done? Do we thank them? Do we thank God? Do we pray for them?
Perhaps it’s time I did.
I’m reminded of the words of Charles Wesley’s hymn, All Praise to our Redeeming Lord:
He bids us build each other up;
And, gathered into one,
To our high calling’s glorious hope
We hand in hand go on