It Wasn't In Vain
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Intro- Imagine a world that is spiritually ignorant. Where the people know nothing of God. They believe that they are above reproach in their actions. They are so bound to their traditions that they are blind to the truth that is before them. If they were to hear the truth of Christ proclaimed, they would reject it… Is that hard to imagine?
- Paul and Silas went to Thessalonica to preach and it was a time just like we just described (similar to some attitudes today) only, they had it a little bit worse. (ran out of the city)… They were accused of turning the world upside down… but, even in the midst of all of that, they converted many Jews from the Synagogue. Paul refers to his trip to Thessalonica and writes that it was not in vain.
---My question that I would like to pose to each of us is this… How can we live a life, that is not in vain? When all is said and done, because all will be said and done… Will what I have done, mattered?
After losing my dad, and reflecting on his life, and the lessons that he taught me, then looking at son, my daughter, my wife… Where am I leading them? How am I doing in my ministry? What about the interactions that I have with the lost? How can I make sure that my life is not in vain?
May I submit to you that if we want our work to matter, we must do what Paul did that made his work not in vain.
For you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.
We need to show urgency
παρακαλέω/ parakaleō - “To ask for earnestly, to beg, plead.”
This is the same root word that Paul uses in while begging his readers to not conform to the world.
Part of what made Paul’s life and work successful was his willingness to show urgency.
There are far too many people today who know enough about God and the Bible to know that they aren’t living the way they are supposed to, but they continue on, convinced that they will get around to it.
The word used for “preach” in the the NT literally means to “herald”
a. Pheidippides was an Athenian herald: In 490 BC. He was sent from Marathon, Greece to Athens to deliver an urgent message regarding an ongoing war. He ran approximately 150 miles in 36 hours. Then died on the spot.- He had a very urgent message… It is because of this that “Marathons” first began.
Pheidippides was an Athenian herald: In 490 BC. He was sent from Marathon, Greece to Athens to deliver an urgent message regarding an ongoing war. He ran approximately 150 miles in 36 hours. Then died on the spot.- He had a very urgent message… It is because of this that “Marathons” first began.
We need to comfort the broken
The second thing that Paul said in V.12 that He and Silas did when they were in Thessalonica was encourage. Sometimes we lump the words exhort and encourage in together, we need not do that because they are different.
The encouragement has more of a note of tenderness, gentleness, healing.
The only other places that this word is used in the NT were in reference to those who were faint hearted or bereaved.
We need to understand this… How is it that Paul was able to go into a hostile environment, where people did not want to hear what he had to say, where he was actually ran out of town, and yet still have a fruitful work accomplished? Partly because he cared about people.
There is a perception that some have of the church as being people who are mean spirited, holier than thou, and judgemental.
I think many times, that perception is unfounded, however it had to start from somewhere… If we want to make sure that our work in the kingdom is meaningless then make sure we come across as if we do not care about people. .. If we want our work to not be in vain… Let’s show the world that we care.
Jesus said in - that the world would know who his disciples were if they had love.
We live in a sin-sick world which means that we experience a lot of pain.
We have opportunities that abound for us to show love, comfort and care to those who are around us.
We need to be firm where God is firm.
While it is true that Paul spent a great deal of time expressing urgency, begging, pleading… encouraging, comforting, showing care and concern… This in no way softened the truth that he proclaimed.
Paul wrote that he exhorted, encouraged, and charged them.
He did not soften the gospel so that it was easier for them to follow, He didn’t tell them what they wanted to hear all the time.
What he did do, in a spirit of love and concern was reason with them about the truth.
Homework- I want you to think of one person that you know who is on the fence about their faith… they don’t see the urgency.
Think about one person who is experiencing some form of brokenness in their life..
Think of one person who is religiously confused… They don’t understand truth… Speak to them this week.