This week in Small Groups at SCC, we took a look at 1 Thessalonians 2. Take a moment to read it, and reflect on these questions:
1 Thessalonians 2
(1) What does this passage teach about God?
In verse 12 we learn that God calls us into his Kingdom and glory. If he calls us then we are welcomed! This is a wonderful truth; the King of heaven and earth wants us with him in his Kingdom. Then, in verse 13 we see that God’s Word is working in the lives of believers to change their lives.
(2) What does it teach about me?
In verse 2, the apostle Paul writes about the suffering that they experienced in the city of Philippi. Yet, that suffering did not hinder them from preaching the Gospel to the church of the Thessalonians. Suffering does not necessarily mean failure. In fact, it seems that in Paul’s mind the opposite may be the case. He suffered because of the Gospel and it produced greater boldness in his proclamation of the Gospel. When we endure suffering or hardship, it is important to let the Gospel define our perspective on our circumstances. In verses 4-12 Paul describes how the difficult circumstances were proof that his motives were pure. His desire was for God’s glory not his own, otherwise he would not have endured so much. In verse 4 he notes that God is the one who tests the heart and enduring such suffering was proof of having passed the test. In at least one sense, trials are ways for our motives to be purified. So when we endure them, we can rejoice because God is working genuine and authentic faith within us.
In verse 8, Paul rejoices not only in sharing the Gospel with this church, but in sharing life. Church isn’t only about sharing the Gospel together, but sharing life together. This is an example of how God creates an atmosphere of love when his people place one another first and proclaim the Gospel. Many churches are soured because individuals put themselves first and neglect to talk about and obey the Gospel. But, Paul speaks of being “affectionately desirous” of the people making up this church because of their love and faithfulness to the Gospel.
3) How must I believe or obey to align my life with God’s Word?
In verses 3 and 5 among other places, motives are discussed. Are my motives pure in the sense of being Gospel-focused rather than self-focused? At this point in America, we aren’t really in any danger of physical persecution, so in light of how the early Christians suffered (see verse 2), we must ask ourselves, “Am I sharing the Gospel in spite of opposition?”
God witnesses our motives for living as seen in verse 5, am I living to please people or God?
In verse 10 Paul speaks about his conduct. Is my life blameless or does it contradict the Gospel I preach? In verse 12 we are charged to live a life worthy of God. Am I living that way? If not, why not? It says we are called to his Kingdom and glory, so this ought to motivate us to live in a worthy way. In verse 13 he commends this church for receiving God’s word properly. Am I believing God’s word, or negotiating my obedience?