"Seeing the Good"
There are things that are not right with a local congregation, but there are many things that are good. How you see the local church family is often how you see Christianity and its role in your life.
Seeing the Good
(1 Thes. 3:6-10)
A. In 1871 Dr. Brewster M. Higley moved from Indiana to Kansas and wrote the words to “Home on the Range.” You remember those words, “Oh, give me a home where the buffalo roam, where the deer and the antelope play.” Now think about the next phrase, “Where seldom is heard a DISCOURAGING word, and the skies are not cloudy all day.”
B. Now set that alongside what you hear about politics and religion in the USA today and see if you “hear a discouraging word.” Some people are so negative they only see problems. It seems like everywhere you turn today you hear a discouraging word.
C. I love what Paul says to Christians in Ephesus (READ Eph. 4:29). The literal rendering would be “every rotten word;” words full of decay. Instead, Paul says, use words that “build up” or “provide what is needed.”
D. Paul does that when he writes letters to churches and individuals. He provides what is needed. Even when his words are harsh, they are for their benefit, not simply Paul lashing out in anger. Paul generally looks at the church which belongs to Christ and sees the good in them. When troubles took place in Philippi between to ladies, Paul writes, “Rejoice in the Lord always! And again I say rejoice!” Just a few verses more Paul writes, “Whatever is true, noble, right, pure, love, admirable – if anything is praiseworthy – think about such things.” (Phil. 4:8)
E. Maybe if we centered a little more on what is right with the church, what is right with my brother, what is right with society, things might actually be a little more right. It is easy to talk about what is wrong with the church, but Paul writes with great joy because he got a report from Timothy about what was right with the church in Thessalonica.
I. Good News About Their Faith
A. In this small section that was read to us, Paul says that Timothy had come to them and brought the good news of their faith. In verse 7, Paul says, “We have been comforted about you through your faith.” Then in verse 10 he writes, “and supply what is lacking in your faith.”
B. Paul is excited. Timothy has announced the good news about their faith. There are times I worry. I pray for my children and the thing I pray for the most is their spiritual journey. I want them to grow in their faith. I want them to claim their own faith, not just that of Kerri and myself. I want them to face the temptations of the world and the persecution that can come in a secular society with a faith that holds them close Jesus and His church.
C. When Elizabeth first went to college, our oldest was leaving home, I knew she was going to a good school with Christian teachers, but I was concerned about her faith. She now had to decide if she was going to get up on Sunday. She now had to decide how often she wanted to be with her church family and how involved she would be in that assembly’s fellowship. I knew the teachers would be great, but spiritual growth would now have to come by her decision to grow. She has made me proud. As each of the kids left home, I have had that same pit in my stomach and each time I have had great joy is seeing them make their faith come to life in amazing ways.
D. My kids have not faced with that church in Thessalonica faced, but as a parent I wanted them to stay strong, pure, and grow. I know too many kids who have walked away from their faith when they left home. Like Paul, many of you have great joy in seeing people you love stay strong when they could have easily failed.
E. Verse 10. These were young Christians. They could easily follow the wrong spiritual path and Paul wanted to get their and give them the instruction they needed. Paul knew they needed more growth and so do I. That is why Sunday school and Wednesday night are important to me. I need to grow through you and what you share in class.
II. Good News About Their Love
A. Paul was not only excited to hear about their faith, but also about how much love this church had. (READ verse 6) Faith needs to be nurtured in love. Faith without works is dead, but faith without love is like a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. I have been encouraged by the love of this church.
B. Love is seen in action. It is seen when you step beyond what is necessary to do what is right and best for another. Love is the testimony to the world that Jesus is the Son of God and we are his disciples. It is our signature calling card. “By this all men shall know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
C. Like many churches, before class they had a prayer list. David Faust, a preacher, was visiting and happened to be sitting next to a man named Jerry. David listed to the prayer list and thought, “It is so important to have other support you.” Jerry leaned over and said to him, “See that man? He gave me a kidney.” These two men were not related and had no other connection than they were members of the same church. That type of love is seen in Christians.
A. “Home, home on the range, where the deer and buffalo play. Where never is heard a discouraging word and the skies are not cloudy all day.” That utopia may not exist, but the church who is growing in faith and love can exist in us.
B. We sing “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.” When we see the good in this congregation, the good in the church that was established by Jesus and given to us in the power of the Holy Spirit, that light of ours shines all around the neighborhood. Our zeal for Christ is contagious and people want what you have. Take your candle and go light your world.
May God Bless You,
Jeffrey Dillinger, Minister