Journal 1 Thes 1 (all references are from the ESV unless noted otherwise; changes in punctuation are mine)
Scripture: “We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you—because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction.
(and) You became imitators of us and of the Lord—for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere so that we need not say anything.” (1Thes1:2-8)
Observation: The preambles in the Epistles are interesting, especially from Paul. There are several doctrinal facts that can be gleaned and, worthy of note, that Paul reinforces to the Churches.
Analysis: Doctrines can be defined as “sets of guidelines” or principles to assist in understanding any subject. Christians have developed doctrines to help us understand the Bible and made creeds and confessions out of them to help our faith to be rock solid, established on a firm foundation of the Word of God.
The doctrine (guidelines/principles) I see in this section is one of encouragement—not the “slap on the back” or “cheer for you when you are down” sort of encouragement, but the “looking for the evidence of grace” kind.
What did Paul see? What evidence of Grace came to his attention?
- Works of faith, labors of love, steadfast hope in Christ
- Imitating the team’s example and imitating the Lord
- Received the Word in affliction to be an EXAMPLE to others
I have gone through periods of looking for and pointing out (hopefully encouragingly) evidence of grace in others. What has become plain is that I must engage in this practice with effort—it takes diligence and persistence to become consistent at it. Not successful, just consistent.
The difficulty comes from my own desires: I want the recognition of what that “evidence of grace” pertains to. Therefore, what are the keys?
- Cultivate humility and think of others before myself. “…in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” (Phil 2:3)
- Encourage (or exhort) daily (Heb 4:12)
- Be vigilant toward the Brotherhood; don’t ignore or fall prey to apathy towards your friends (wives, children, etc.)
Certainly, the above is not all inclusive; just a portion of the principles found in the Word of God. Still, what a start!!
Prayer: Father, it is no secret to You that I started on the above path because of the way I was feeling about being encouraged, not some “holy word” from above. That led me from this thing to that thing and finally that biblically encouraging others by recognizing evidence of grace was proper and obedient to Your Word.
Again, I confess and plead to you for deliverance from the “Me-ism” that is my pride in action.
Ricky Two Shoes