1 Thessalonians 2:13
“For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.”
A few days ago I was working at my computer using a program that had been updated with new features. While I had used the program before, these new features added elements with which I was unfamiliar. I was having trouble with what should have been a pretty simple task. Each time I tried to make it do what I wanted, the program would override my action, doing something else to the document. In frustration, I called out for help from one of the other pastors, who is quite computer savvy. When he came to my aid I said, “This stupid thing is not working.” To which he replied. “That’s because you are doing it wrong.” After a moment of being offended, I realized he was right and I humbled myself allowing him to show me the correct way to work the program. I was delighted to find it was not the program that was being stupid, and the upgrades were actually quite helpful. But what does that have to do with our text?
“The word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.”
I have heard people say something to the effect of, “I tried reading the Bible, but it did not work for me.” Others, might even goes so far as to say, “I tried Jesus, it did not work.” To which I think the proper response would be, “you are doing it wrong.” Notice that Paul speaks of the effectiveness of the Word of God to work in the life of the believer. He actually lists three necessities if we want the Word of God to work effectively in us.
“You received the word of God which you heard from us”
First, they took the time to hear the Word of God. We read in Romans that “faith comes by hearing the Word of God” (Romans 10:17). The first step to being transformed by God’s Word is to receive the Word. We must put ourselves in a place where we are ingesting the Word of God on a regular basis. This includes the need for daily Bible reading, as well as church attendance, where we are being taught through the Word of God. Sadly, not all churches teach the Word. Find one that emphasizes the Bible and teaches through it.
“. . .you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, . . .”
Second, as they read through the Word, or heard Paul teach, they recognized these were not the opinions of man to be argued with, updated or discarded. Instead, they realized the Bible is in fact, the Word of God given to man. Writing to Timothy, Paul declared the Word of God is inspired and profitable. We all like that word profit, it means we gain from it. When we understand the Bible is of great value, take the time to listen to it, not to argue with God, or try to conform its teaching to fit our lifestyles, we will find that it effectively works in us.
“. . . the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.”
Finally, Paul declares when they heard the Word, it was coupled with faith. They believed God wanted to do exactly what He said and they expected to see those things worked out in their lives. I recently read a tweet that said, “If you are not praying for a miracle you probably won’t get one.” The same idea is true when reading the Word. If you do not believe what God is saying, you are not going to be willing to put it into practice, and you will find yourselves accusing the Word of God of being impotent, instead of effectual.
Allow me to encourage you to approach your Bible as the Word of God, receiving it daily, trusting in its warnings and promises, so you, like the Thessalonians, may find that it has effectively worked in you.
- In verse 1, Paul says that his visit was not in vain. The Thessalonians themselves were living evidence that his work had been fruitful. People were converted and a church was established. To read more about the beginnings of the church in Thessalonica turn in your Bibles to the book of Acts Chapter 17.
- Verse 2 speaks about how badly Paul was treated in Philippi just before he came to Thessalonica. Paul had no fear of imprisonment. It didn’t keep him from preaching the gospel. If God wants us to do something He will give us the strength and courage to do it. Are you facing obstacles that are keeping you from serving God?
- Verse 5 deals with a very carnal motive-flattery. Flattery is phony and it is a cover up for a person’s real intention. Christians should not be flatterers but have a special responsibility to be honest. Are you honest and straight forward in your words and actions, or are you an ear tickler in order to get what you want?
- In verses 6-8 Paul uses the illustration of parenting to make his point. Paul said, “We were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children.” He didn’t flatter them nor seek their praise or become a burden to them. Paul realized that new converts needed gentleness. Notice in verse 8 some of the phrases Paul uses: “So affectionately longing for you,” “Well pleased,” and “You had become dear to us.” We all have people in our lives that are dear to us. Are you being considerate, gentle, and meeting their needs?
- A mother is to be nurturing and a father needs to be strong, protective, and wise. Here in verse 11 Paul uses the parenting illustration of fatherhood to impart wisdom and consul. What does he exhort, comfort, and charge them to do in verse 12?
- Verse 14 talks about persecution. This can be very discouraging especially from your loved ones. It’s when you take a stand for the Lord Jesus that opposition, disapproval, and ridicule come. Sometimes it comes angrily and violently. Be mindful and read what the Lord and Paul had to say in Mark 8:38 and 2 Timothy 1:8.
- In verse 17 Paul states that his separation from them was physical, not spiritual and his affection for them never waned. He said he endeavored more eagerly to see their face with great desire.” That is intense! Have you ever wanted to see someone you have never met with that intensity?
- In verses 17-20 Paul is so very interested in going back to Thessalonica because he had pointed them to the Lord. He felt responsible for their spiritual growth. In verse 19 what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing?