Reach out and Touch
Reach out and Touch
Words of Faith 3-15-19
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2019
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
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1 Thessalonians 3
So when we could stand it no longer, we thought it best to be left by ourselves in Athens.  We sent Timothy, who is our brother and God's fellow worker in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith,  so that no one would be unsettled by these trials. You know quite well that we were destined for them.  In fact, when we were with you, we kept telling you that we would be persecuted. And it turned out that way, as you well know.  For this reason, when I could stand it no longer, I sent to find out about your faith. I was afraid that in some way the tempter might have tempted you and our efforts might have been useless.
Paul had expressed a deep spiritual and emotional tie that he felt with the believers in Thessalonica. Circumstances had kept him from returning personally to encourage the believers there, so he and Silas sent Timothy.
Timothy was the perfect person to go back into Thessalonica. He was young and probably easily dismissed by authorities. He had not been arrested during the initial missionary visit to Thessalonica. He could easily slip into town and get to the believers, but for these same reasons, those in Thessalonica could very easily look down on Timothy. Paul needed to strongly endorse Timothy so that he could minister to and encourage the believers there.
Paul's endorsement of Timothy implied equality with the other older missionaries. Paul would later write to Timothy, "Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity" (1 Tim. 4:12). His youthfulness was an asset but also a hurdle to overcome.
Timothy's mission was to strengthen (sterizai) them, "to make them firm" and solid in the faith. He was also sent to encourage them (parakalesai)-- "invite them alongside"-- by providing what they needed to fight the good fight of faith. Much of the ministry of the apostles was devoted to grounding new believers in the faith, a ministry as necessary today as it was in the first century.
Another purpose of Timothy's visit was that these Christians would not lose their spiritual balance and stability as a result of the trials they were experiencing. The word sainesthai is translated unsettled. It is used to describe a dog wagging its tail back and forth. The phrase paints a picture of the Thessalonians going back and forth because of their persecutions.
When trouble comes to us as believers, there is a temptation to react by doubting that we are where God wants us to be. We can also begin to think that we have done something wrong and that God must be displeased with us. In fact, such difficulties can often be a sign that we are exactly where God wants us to be.
Paul would later reassure Timothy that "Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted" (2 Tim. 3:12). Paul reminded the believers that when he was with them, he kept telling them to expect persecution. And circumstances had turned out just as he had predicted.
This reminder may have helped calm them down. Such difficulties serve to make believers strong and able to stand firm, rather than to blow them away (2 Cor. 4:15-16). It is the ploy of the enemy to attempt to lure us away from God's plan and will for our lives and ministry.
What do we gain from this?
We don't want to miss the fact that it takes all different kinds of people and gifts to do the ministry of the Lord. Timothy was a young, quiet and unassuming young man with a clean arrest record in Thessalonica. He was perfect for this job. We should never limit what God may want to do through us. We can never assume that because we do not have the same gifts as others that God will not be able to use us. Quite to the contrary, we should expect that God is perfectly preparing us for a unique place in his plan.
A broader lesson here is about being encouraged and strengthened as believers even when difficulty comes. If you are struggling in the circumstances of life, the Lord is most certainly there to come alongside. We need to receive the encouragement and strengthening that comes from connection with other believers. There is an example here that calls for us to encourage and strengthen one another. As the Body, we are to reach out and touch other believers even when distance separates us.
Father God, help me today to see the ways that I can be of encouragement to others. Help me to see those who may need strengthening. Help me to understand my gifting and the way that You desire for me to fit into Your plan. In Jesus' name.