May 14, 2018
1 Thessalonians 1: 6-7… 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 Achaia.
When I read this today, I remembered when Paul first witnessed in Thessalonica, it was anything but victorious. I looked back into Acts 17and read this in verse 5… But the Jews were jealous and taking some wicked men of the rabble, they formed a mob, set the city in an uproar, and attacked the house of Jason, seeking to bring them out to the crowd.
Verse10… The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea.
The church that was planted in Thessalonica began and grew with the Jews persecuting them and causing them much grief. That was probably hard, since the Jews were, historically, the people of God. Paul, in the sentence at the top of this page, said, “You received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit.”
Joy is a big part of life in God. Paul, in Romans 14:17 says… For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
The Kingdom of God is evidenced by joy as one of the marks. It is not the same thing as happiness. Happiness is mostly generated by circumstances. Joy is given by God and is only obtained in the Holy Spirit. But, in the Holy Spirit, joy is prevalent. Joy was evident at the receiving of the word. (read the top of this page again) Because of the fleeting nature of happiness, I think my understanding of joy is tainted. It is in the Holy Spirit; it does not come and go.
Paul mentions it in his greeting to the Thessalonians. His mention of it, in conjunction with afflictions, is significant. The church was not identified by afflictions and he mentioned that. It was identified by the fruit of the Spirit.
Instead of drawing our attention to the endurance of the church, Paul draws attention to the life in the Spirit. Lately, I have pondered the role of endurance; I think it has to do with aging. Rather than naming that discipline, Paul gives the fruit of the Spirit as evidence of imitating God.