The Apostle Paul was known as a thankful person. This is undoubtedly due to the fact that he was aware of the grace of God shown to him in Christ Jesus. He had been a persecutor of the church of Jesus Christ and an enemy of the Gospel, and yet by grace God had opened his eyes and his heart and made him an Apostle of Jesus Christ. Paul’s attitude of thankfulness flows through many of his letters and especially his greetings and introductions. Paul and Silvanus and Timothy send greetings and write, “Grace to you and peace.” (1 Thessalonians 1:1, English Standard Version) The grace and peace of which they speak is that which is found in Christ Jesus. Jesus Christ, the gracious Savior, has given His people peace with God by His work on their behalf. It is by knowing the Person of Christ who has done this work that the people of God have grace and peace.
The introduction to the letter goes on to commend the Thessalonians, with Paul noting his thankfulness. While Paul is thankful for these believers themselves, we may note that the thanks he expresses is ultimately based upon what God has done in the lives of the Thessalonians. This is a Gospel thankfulness, a thankfulness based on the Good News of Jesus Christ and the ways in which God Himself has transformed these believers. Paul writes in verse 4, “For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you…” Paul is thankful for what God has done. The Thessalonians are faithful and an encouragement to the Apostle Paul because God has chosen them. This is the same choosing grace that Paul himself knew well. As Paul had at one time been opposed to Christ, God chose him and drew him unto himself. Paul next references the way in which God has specifically saved and worked in the Thessalonian Christians in verses 5-7, writing, “because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. 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.” When the Thessalonian Christians heard the Gospel preached by Paul and his company, the Lord called them irresistibly to Himself, changing them from the inside out. Paul rejoices at their conversion that God wrought and also at their continued growth in grace.
Are we marked by Gospel thankfulness? Are we thankful for the work God has done in our lives and also in the lives of fellow believers? Do we long, as did Paul, to see the lost converted?
We meet from 5:00 – 6:30 pm at The Arkansas DreamCenter at 1116 Daisy L Gatson Bates Drive in Little Rock for worship. Get directions here or contact us for more info. You can also join us on Facebook Live @RiverCityARP or on YouTube. For the order of service, click here.
Photo by Pro Church Media on Unsplash.