Encouragement during Trials
1 Thessalonians 3:1-3 ESV
“Therefore when we could bear it no longer, we were willing to be left behind at Athens alone, and we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s coworker in the gospel of Christ, to establish and exhort you in your faith, that no one be moved by these afflictions.”
When we go through trials and tribulations which try our faith, and which test our resolve to remain committed to the Lord and to his Word, it can be disheartening and discouraging. It can be painful, too, especially when we are met with opposition, false accusations, harassment, and the like.
It can even be troublesome seeing our brothers and sisters in the Lord go through difficulties and persecutions. And that has the potential to bring about discouragement knowing that we are bound for the same type of treatment if we remain faithful to our calling in the Lord Jesus.
So, we need to encourage one another in our faith, and we need to pray for one another, and spur one another on to love and good deeds which God has called us to do (Eph 2:10). And we must urge one another to walk in holiness and in righteousness and to not fall prey to the devil’s traps.
For, the tempter is out there, not just to tempt us to commit immorality, or to lie, or to cheat, etc., but he is out there to try to get us to give up, to get discouraged, and to be fearful of opposition and what people are saying about us. For, it is not pleasant to be falsely attacked by others.
But we have to give our reputations over to the Lord. That’s just the reality. Jesus did for us. He certainly was accused falsely of things he did not do, and they put words in his mouth that he did not say, and they tried to twist his words hoping to trip him up so that they could accuse him of wrong.
Destined to Suffer Affliction
1 Thessalonians 3:3-5 ESV
“For you yourselves know that we are destined for this. For when we were with you, we kept telling you beforehand that we were to suffer affliction, just as it has come to pass, and just as you know. For this reason, when I could bear it no longer, I sent to learn about your faith, for fear that somehow the tempter had tempted you and our labor would be in vain.”
Jesus promised us that the way in which he was treated is the same way in which we will be treated. So, he gave us no false expectations that we are going to be loved by everyone or that we will not face hardships and trials. He said we will! But he will carry us through it all!!
Suffering for the sake of our faith in Jesus Christ is par for the course of the Christian’s walk of faith. If we are not suffering persecution for our faith in Jesus Christ, then something is wrong. Perhaps it is because we let our lights go out and our salt has lost its saltiness (Ref: Matt 5:13-16).
So, if we are not hated for our walks of faith and for our testimonies for Jesus and for his gospel, since Jesus said that we would be hated, and if the world loves us, instead, then that is a matter of grave concern, because that could mean we have compromised with the world to be loved by the world.
But Jesus Christ has called us out of the world, and we are to no longer belong to the world, but we are to belong to Christ and to Him and to Him alone. So, if they persecuted Jesus, they will persecute us, too, if we are truly following him in surrender and in obedience to his ways (Jn 15:19-20).
And we should be deeply concerned for our brothers and sisters in the Lord who are being loved by the world and not hated by the world, because that would seem to indicate some level of compromise with the world and lack of a sincere desire to be fully surrendered to Jesus Christ.
We should be concerned that the tempter may have tempted them to compromise so as to be loved by the world and not hated and persecuted. For that is where many are who profess the name of Jesus, living not much different from those who make no profession of faith in Jesus.
And this should grieve us! This should bring us to tears that the church’s light has mostly gone out, and most have lost their saltiness, and they are no longer, as a whole, being effective for the gospel of Jesus Christ in leading people to surrender their lives to the Lord and so be saved.
Granted, this does not apply to every church in every location or to every individual believer in Jesus Christ, but it is a clear depiction of the church at large, at least here in America, which has largely gone the way of the world, and which has compromised the gospel to make it more palatable and acceptable to the world and to human flesh.
So, we need to be praying for and exhorting our professed brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ to leave their lives of sin behind them and to follow Jesus in obedience to his will, and to walk in fellowship with him, and to fulfill his calling upon their lives to be the light of the world and the salt of the earth so that many people will be saved and have eternal life.
Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer
Lyrics by Thomas O. Chisholm, 1897
Music by W. J. Kirkpatrick, 1897
Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.
Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.
O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.
O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.
Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.
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