a devotional response to I Thessalonians 1:1-8 – I Thessalonians, Day 1
Paul, the Apostle, wrote thank you letters! Here I thought it was a southern tradition, and all the time it was right there in God’s Word! I Thessalonians 1:1-8 records one of his thank you notes.
He began his thank you note with a greeting (verse 1), wishing them grace and peace from God. He recognized the relationship to God as Father, and he noted the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
Then, he began the thank you part.
In verses two through eight he assured them of his prayer support, and he thanked them.
This was no generic thank you note; he was specific and personal in his praise.
He thanked them for their work, their faith their love, and their patience in hope. Life for Christians in Thessalonica was difficult – they were surrounded by paganism, and Christianity was not the religion of the day. It cost them to be Christians. I’m sure they probably faced discouragement and wondered if their work was touching anyone.
Paul noticed. And he let them know that he noticed.
He also acknowledged their position in Christ and their acceptance of the Gospel. He went on to mention the trials they had endured because of the Gospel and their faithfulness in sharing their faith. They were fulfilling God’s purpose in their lives.
Can you imagine how this must have encouraged them? They were remembered and appreciated. Someone was praying for them. Recognition was not their motive for service, but sincere appreciation can do a heart good.
The practice of writing thank you notes seems to be a lost art today. Personal written words of encouragement are even more rare. We tend to be too busy to offer a sincere thank you for a gift or an act of service. We fail to notice the sacrifices of others as they serve.
Over the years, I have received some thank you notes from individuals who simply wrote to encourage me. The brief notes often arrived at times when I was troubled or discouraged – when I just needed someone to care. Those notes strengthened me and helped me to press on. I believe that God used those people to speak grace into my life through the notes they sent.
Sometimes we put off thanking someone because we don’t have the right card or the right pen or the right words. In this digital age, we have email, text messaging, instant messaging, social media, and many other ways to communicate. It doesn’t have to be perfect; it just has to be thought, and said, and sent.
As I am writing this, several names come to mind of people that have been a blessing to me or that are facing difficult times. I believe that when God brings a person’s name to mind, He is offering me an opportunity to pray for, to serve, and to speak grace to them.
Paul’s practice of writing thank you notes is an example for me.
Has someone touched your life? Have you noticed someone’s selfless service? Do you know a person who needs an encouraging word?
God can use you to speak grace into others’ lives today.
I Thessalonians 5:11 Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify (encourage, build up) one another, even as also ye do.