1 Thessalonians 3: 6 – 9
6 But Timothy has just now come to us from you and has brought good news about your faith and love. He has told us that you always have pleasant memories of us and that you long to see us, just as we also long to see you. 7 Therefore, brothers and sisters, in all our distress and persecution we were encouraged about you because of your faith. 8 For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord. 9 How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you?
In the Border town that was my first Charge two great things happened after the Battle of Waterloo. Firstly when the Scots Greys returning en route to Edinburgh passed through the town a small band of musicians formed up to welcome them as they crossed the Merket Square, so started the Toon band one of the oldest brass bands in the country.
Secondly returning to his hometown was an old soldier, a sergeant who had campaigned for many a year with Wellington’s troops. It was his proud claim that he had fought in no less than thirty battles and survived them all without so much as a scratch. It was intention to have a long retirement back in the land of his calf years, perhaps an unfortunate phrase in his case.
One day as a local farmer was driving a few stirks to the abattoir along the main road when one of them saw its chance of freedom and bolted sharp right across the bridge. On the other side our soldier saw it coming and stepped into the street to shoo it back, sadly the bullock in full flight mode did not heed him and knocked him flying. Very badly wounded the soldier lay in the dust and a woman ran over to help and cradled him in her arms saying “You’ll be alright Jamie, just think of all those battles you came through” To which he replied “Aye and if I’d kent I was going to be run doon by a coo I dinna think I’d have bothered!” And with that exclamation he died.
Paul at times wondered whether all his efforts had in vain as he fretted about if his message had got through and been taken on board. It must have weighed heavily on his mind as he was imprisoned and persecuted for his faith and preaching. What if he had endured all that only to find the churches that he planted had failed to take root and grow once he had left for pastures new.
All his Epistles seem to be prompted by fears or reports of problems suffered by the churches. People bring false prophecies, in fighting among the faithful, leaders thinking they were more important than the message of the Gospel not to mention others corrupting what Jesus had said.
We can only imagine then how overjoyed he would be when Timothy returned from Thessalonica with the good news that the people were holding on to their faith and indeed using that to withstand all the persecutions visited upon them by those outside the faith.
This brings joy to his heart not that he has achieved anything but that God’s word and will is being lived out by the faithful flock.
It was through the work of Paul Timothy and all those other men and women that we know of God’s love today. And we share in Paul’s joy.
Lord God our loving Father in Heaven, for those who brought us to faith, we thank you. For those who demonstrated your love, we thank you. For those that showed what it was to be a Christian, we thank you. For Paul, for the churches in Thessalonica, Ephesus, Corinth and all the others that kept the faith alive we thank you.
In your Mercy hear our prayer,