This post is based on a message that I gave on Sunday November 6th. You can listen to the podcast here.
1 Thess 3:1-3 Therefore when we could bear it no longer, we were willing to be left behind at Athens alone, 2and we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s coworker in the gospel of Christ, to establish and exhort you in your faith,3that no one be moved by these afflictions. For you yourselves know that we are destined for this.
In order for the church to minister to the hurting people of this world it must be a mobilized force of people who are ready to minister to their needs. Paul calls the church to this in the book of 1 Thessalonians. We are mandated by scripture to minister to the hurting within the church as well as those outside. It is in tough times that the church should rise up and be the love of Christ.
Paul has really gone through the ringer on his second missionary journey. He has been beaten in Philipi, chased out of Thessalonica, mocked in Athens, and now he is in Corinth one of the most ungodly places. As he is waiting for Timothy to return he reveals how he is feeling. He is unsettled, afflicted, and stressed out and rightfully so. The church in Thessalonica becomes a great encouragement to him.
The church should be an encouragement to those that are suffering in the world. 1 Thessalonians 3 is a game plan for ministering to those people. This week we are going to look at how to do that. The first thing that every church needs to ministers to the suffering are faithful ministers. Paul sent Timothy to Thessalonica to establish and exhort them in their faith. Timothy is called God’s co-worker. The NJKV uses the term minister. Both of these are from the Greek word from where we get deacon. Timothy was willing to do the work of the ministry to those who need.
All of us are called to minister to one another. It isn’t just the paid professionals that are called to minister to the needs of the hurting. We need to be establishing of the faith of others. Taking those that are new in their faith and fixing them firmly in their beliefs. We also need to be strengthening the weak. In verse 3 says “that no one be moved by afflictions.” The term moved actually means to change directions. Paul didn’t want anyone in Thessalonica to go back to their old ways of doing things. The people of the church are to strengthen those who are struggling. Paul uses the word affliction which means to be pressed, crushed, or squeezed. When someone who is being pressed by the difficulties of life it is the church (by that I mean the people) that needs to come alongside them and minister to their physical and spiritual needs.
Let God lead you as He brings people across your path. If someone is hurting meet a physical need. Do something around their house, bring them a meal, take their kids of their hands for several hours so they can rest or catch up. Meet their spiritual need as well. When you run into to them don’t tell them you will pray for them, stop right now and pray for them wherever you are at. By doing these things you will strengthen the weak.