Bible Reading: 1 Thessalonians 3
If like me, you were blessed with the privilege of an older sibling who was always looking out for you, you’ll probably be able to relate better with our reading today.
Big brother Paul was looking out for the people of the church in Thessalonica and even though he couldn’t see them personally, he sent brother Timothy to check things out.
Why was this so important?
“That no one [of you] should be disturbed and beguiled and led astray by these afflictions and difficulties [to which I have referred]. For you yourselves know that this is [unavoidable in our position, and must be recognized as] our appointed lot.”
1 Thessalonians 3:3 AMPC
We all face different types of trials and tribulations and Paul recognizes that these have the ability to “unscrew” something in the head and mess with our faith, so he sent a professional ‘screw tightner’, Bro Timothy to check and help establish and comfort the faith of the church.
Our world has been faced with an unprecedented season, a pandemic that has affected every single one of us in some way and it cuts across various spheres of our lives. I mean, I’ve walked through some of the most challenging points of my life in this season in various regards, I’ve had to deal with the noise and chatter on the news, I’ve had to deal with physical symptoms in my body, temptations to compromise, emotional challenges and so many things that could be termed ‘trials’. It has honestly challenged my faith sometimes, but I’m grateful to God for the Bro Timothies that speak and remind me of God’s word when the screws are loose in these times. I thank God for my big brother Pauls too!
Timothy and Paul could be people in your world, but could also be God given systems and structures. I’m grateful to be in a church family that reaches out and helps me stay established in my faith and not be a victim of loosened screws.
It’s good to know that Tim returned to Paul with good news that the church in Thessalonica was still strong in faith and that’s amazing, but the truth is, that’s not always the case.
Remember the church in Corinth, which was supposedly a very ‘spiritual’ church but yet got things very messed up, which Paul had to step in and correct and thankfully they opened their hearts to that such that by 2nd Corinthians, we see that they had got their act together and had received the help.
We are not always right and things are not always smooth- we need to have “big brothers” or even just “brothers” that have that access to help us and establish us in our faith and convictions and decisions.
Are you making yourself accessible to get help? Or have you locked yourself out of the relationships and systems that can help you?
The fellowship of brethren brings strength. We can’t underestimate the power of being connected in a church family. Imagine a certain brother Jephta was not around when Tim came around to the Thessalonians. He was busy figuring things out on his own or was just not in the mood to be present in Church, he would have missed out on whatever encouragement God was orchestrating at that point.
‘God sets the solitary in families’ (Psalm 68:6), don’t isolate yourself! In our context, don’t miss meetings, be there, tune in, join in, connect, pray with, and so on
Who would know if you ever have doubts about your faith? Who would know when you’re toying with the idea of sin? The trials and temptations are real, the possibility of losing faith is real, if not, Paul wouldn’t have been so worried about the Thessalonians.
Just being a Christian is not enough, you need structures and connections that will help you stay firm and established in it.
All of this is not to say you can’t or shouldn’t be the big brother.
Paul shows us here what it takes to be a big brother in simply his “Can’t Stand It Anymore” (CSIA) moment.
Have you ever been in one of those “Can’t Stand It Anymore” moments? Maybe you were visiting your soon-to-be in laws for the first time, and nature’s “number two” decided it wanted to call. You were first forming meditation, but at some point you just “can’t stand it anymore”! Or your friend had been yapping away about big brother yugoslavia or some other nonsense and you just got to that point where you “can’t stand it anymore”!
Paul was in one of those ‘CSIA’ moments, he emphasizes it twice in this chapter (v1 and v5). He really wanted to see the Thessalonians badly and he couldn’t stand it anymore!
I think there are majorly two things at work in every “CSIA”moment:
First, a really strong stimulus that pushes you to that edge (the urge in your bowels or the nonsense from your friend)
Second, a response, that is what must be done when you reach that edge… is it sprinting into the in-law’s toilet? (Better flush three times when you’re done), or a dirty backhanded slap? (Not a Christian thing to do).
The big question always is: ‘If you really can’t stand it, then what are you going to do about it?’
I think Big brother Paul just couldn’t stand not knowing about the Thessalonians welfare because of how much he loved them and that elicited a response- he sent Timothy to find out.
From Paul’s example, I believe the key ingredient to being a successful big brother is love and a quick question check for ourselves should be “Can I stand it?” Can I stand not knowing how my Christian brother or sister is doing? What am I doing about it?
Just as a structure is looking out for you, also be a structure to someone: love deeply, pray for them, encourage them, comfort them. No matter who you are or where you are on your journey, there’s someone that you can help stand firmly in the faith!
Here’s the beauty of living our lives this way:
“I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong— that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.”
Romans 1:11-12 NIV
Just when you thought living this way would sap all your spiritual juice, here’s a quick tip from Paul- make someone stronger and viola both of you are getting better! It’s mutual encouragement!
“because now we really live [in spite of everything], if you stand firm in the Lord.”
1 Thessalonians 3:8 AMP
I challenge you today to rediscover the mutuality of Christian community- make yourself accessible to the right big brothers and to be the right big brother also.
Something to Pray:
“And may the Lord increase your love until it overflows toward one another and for all people, just as our love overflows toward you.”
1 Thessalonians 3:12 TPT
Oluwaloni serves as a songwriter and worship leader and leads a Life Group at Sycamore