A Spiritual Checkup
A Spiritual Checkup
I Thess 3:1-5
Intro: Paul sent his trusted colleague Timothy to check on the Thessalonain church. 3:1. Circumstances prohibited Paul from returning to Thessalonica personally, so he and Silas decided to send Timothy back to encourage the saints. Evidently Paul traveled from Berea to Athens without the companionship of Timothy and Silas. When he reached Athens he sent word back to Berea (by the Berean Christians who had accompanied him) for Timothy and Silas to join him in Athens as soon as possible (Acts 17:15). Apparently Timothy and Silas did so. Their mutual concern for the Thessalonian church led Paul and Silas to dispatch Timothy to Thessalonica (1 Thes. 3:1-2). Silas also returned to Macedonia shortly after Timothy’s departure, probably to check on the Philippian church. Silas and Timothy both returned to Macedonia to rejoin Paul in Corinth, Paul’s next port of call after Athens (Acts 18:1, 5).
3:2. Paul’s description of Timothy seems to imply that the young man needed more than Paul’s normal endorsement. Perhaps because of his youth Timothy was not as readily recognized and respected as his older fellow missionaries. Paul called Timothy our brother, suggesting equality in the Lord’s work with Paul and Silas. In relation to the Lord, Timothy was a hardworking servant, suggestive of his zeal and humility. He was a brother-servant in spreading the gospel of Christ.
Timothy’s mission was to have been a positive blessing and help to the Thessalonian Christians. He was to strengthen (stērizai;. 13) them, to make them firm and solid in the faith. He was also sent to encourage (parakalesai; 2:12) them by providing what they needed to fight the good fight of faith, individually and collectively. Much of the ministry of the apostles was devoted to grounding new converts in the faith, a ministry as necessary today as it was in the first century.
The concerns he expressed for their spiritual status give us a “spiritual evaluation” of sorts that we should consider for ourselves.
This spiritual evaluation follows similar physical evauations a doctor would perform checking for problems
I. THE TEMPERATURE OF OUR ZEAL(VS.3)
Zeal –def. --eagerness and ardent interest in pursuit of something. What happens when we lose our zeal? We lose focus, We lose our very vitality. The enemy is about attacking Christians in the area of Zeal. If that is accomplished we lose our effectiveness to win others. The Lord warns speaks against this in Rev. 3:14
Paul was hoping to prevent discouragement from dampening the enthusiasm of the Thessalonians as they heard about his afflictions. He understood that the element of morale is vitally important in the spiritual life. We may become discouraged by a lack of results, a lack of appreciation or support from others, or a lack of opportunity to succeed. We have a spiritual problem if our zeal has been quenched
II. THE PULSE OF OUR FAITH (VS. 5)
The pulse is the indicator of the strength and regularity of the pumping of the heart. When a person is unconscious, a trained individual will first check breathing and pulse rate to determine what’s happening within. When we exercize, we’re told to keep a check on our pulse rate to keep it within a certain range. The pulse of our spiritual lives that keeps us functioning with constancy and vitality is faith. We need to keep a check on the pulse rate of our spiritual lives A strong, consistence faith enables us to survive crises and live stable lives.
The trials and testings that come to our lives as Christians are not accidents—they are appointments. We must expect to “suffer for His sake” (Phil. 1:29). 29 For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;
Persecution is not foreign to the believer (1 Peter 4:1212 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:
, but a normal part of the Christian life. Paul had repeatedly told them this while he was with them. We must warn new believers that the way is not easy as they seek to live for Christ; otherwise, when trials come, these babes in Christ will be discouraged and defeated.
Of course, behind these persecutions is Satan, the enemy of the Christian (1 Thes. 3:5). He is the tempter, and he seeks to ruin our faith. Note the emphasis on faith in this chapter (1 Thes. 3:5–7, 10). As a roaring lion, Satan stalks believers; and we must resist him “steadfast in the faith” (1 Peter 5:8–9). When Satan tempted Eve, he began by weakening her faith in God: “Yea, hath God said?” (Gen. 3:1) As a serpent, Satan deceives (2 Cor. 11:3); as a lion, he devours (1 Peter 5:8). He will use any means to attack the Christian and weaken his faith in God.
The word “moved” in 1 Thessalonians 3 is interesting. It literally means “to wag the tail, to fawn over.” The idea is that Satan often flatters the believer in order to lead him astray. Satan told Eve she would be like God if she ate of the tree, and she fell for his flattery. Satan is more dangerous when he flatters than when he frowns.
Timothy’s task was to establish these believers and encourage (comfort) them in their faith. It is faith in God that keeps our feet on the ground when the enemy attacks. Without faith in God, we are defeated. “This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith” (1 John 5:4).
If we yield to temptation, it is as if we are saying our faith is futile. Conversely, our faith needs to remain strong, like the pulse of a healthy person, to withstand Satan’s attack’s
III. THE VIGOR OF OUR MORAL PURITY(VS 5)
Vigor =active bodily or mental strength or force
The apostle Paul was concerned about how the enemy had come against the Thessalonica Christians. As Christians, we’re to have a vigor to live holy before God. We’re to regularly keep a check on our vigor in this area. Sin is deceptive. Sin is the infection that sickens and kills the soul. Paul was concerned about the work of the tempter that could destroy his investment in God’s people.
God’s power flowing through us is the only antibiotic that can thwart the spreading of sin’s infection. We need to appropriate his power more so we can faithfully fight off Satan’s attacks.
The two-fold ministry of the Word of God and prayer is what establishes a church. If there is all teaching and preaching and no prayer, then the people will have light but no power. If there is all prayer but no teaching of the Word, you may have a group of enthusiasts who have more heat than light! The pastor, Sunday School teacher, missionary, or Christian worker who talks to God about his people, and then talks to his people about God, will have a balanced and established ministry. Christ’s ministry consisted of both the Word and prayer (Luke 22:31–32). Samuel ministered in this way (1 Sam. 12:23, and do not forget the last clause); so did Peter and the apostles (Acts 6:4) and Paul himself (Acts 20:32).
Paul’s concern was not so much their safety or happiness, but their faith. The word “faith” is used five times in this chapter. Satan is the enemy of our faith, for if he can get us to doubt God and His Word, he will rob us of the enjoyment of every blessing we have in Christ. Paul wanted them to have mature (perfected) faith (v. 10). Faith is not a deposit that sits within the heart and never changes; it is like the grain of mustard seed that looks small, but contains life and is able to grow. Paul wanted to see these people abounding in love, established in hope, and growing in faith—faith, hope, and love!
Paul has identified for us three of the spiritual problems that create sickness in our Christian lives and in our churches: discouragement, the nagging chronic affliction; unfaithfulness, the lack of efficient and healthy functioning; moral breakdown, the cancer that destroys vitality