March 30, 2021 – Tuesday
1 Thessalonians 1:6-7 NIV
6 You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.
7 And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia.
Reading the verses above, it seemed as if the verses from Philippians 1:28-30 prepared us for these verses from the Thessalonian church. Why? Once again, we have suffering for believers. But something new as well for Paul calls the believers imitators. Interesting that only 5 times do we have the word imitate in the New Testament and only 3 times the word imitators, and only 3 times the word imitate in the Old Testament. The most famous occurrence is Paul encouraging the Corinthians to imitate him (1 Corinthians 4:16).
What we have in the verses above is Paul lauding the Thessalonians for becoming imitators of Paul and Silas and especially of the Lord. We can read about Paul and Silas being in Thessalonica in Acts 17. Of course, the Lord Jesus was not with them, at least not in bodily form. Nonetheless, He was there as Paul and Silas shared the gospel about how Jesus died for our sins on the cross, was buried, and rose on the third day, Resurrection Day. Paul and Silas would have shared as much as they could on Jesus’ teachings, sermons, and parables along with many of His miracles. As a result many believed there.
To imitate them the Thessalonians would have taught on all the same to visitors and travelers from Macedonia and Achaia. Then they would have traveled throughout Macedonia and to Achaia to do the same, sharing the good news of Jesus and how salvation was possible through Him. Possible to those who would admit their sins, believe Jesus died to pay the ransom for their sins and that He defeated death when He rose on the third day, and finally call upon Him as their Lord and Savior.
They would be not only like Paul and Silas, but also like the Lord when they did this in service to others to show them the way to salvation out of love, not for money or profit. Doing this and living as Christians they would become a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. Models are important in our lives. Jesus is the ultimate model for all of us. Imitating Christ can seem to be so onerous we look for others as models to imitate. Paul knew that so he encouraged them to imitate him (1 Corinthians 4:16). We do this today, looking to those we admire as solid Christians as models to imitate. Sadly, many choose for models those who have made themselves rich preaching God’s word instead of those both living and teaching God’s word.
Nonetheless, we can be like the Thessalonians and become models for believers all around us by living as Christians and teaching God’s word. This would require putting others before ourselves to help lead others to the knowledge of the good news of Jesus Christ and how His free gift of grace offers salvation to all who would believe.
Prayer: Father God, lead me to imitate Paul and Silas as well as Your Son and others around me who live as best they can, the Christian life in word and action. Let me continue to find those to act as models for me so I might act as models for others. – In Jesus Name. Amen.