1 Thessalonians 2:13-20 (ESV)
And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers. For you, brothers, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea. For you suffered the same things from your own countrymen as they did from the Jews, who killed both the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out, and displease God and oppose all mankind by hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles that they might be saved—so as always to fill up the measure of their sins. But wrath has come upon them at last! But since we were torn away from you, brothers, for a short time, in person not in heart, we endeavored the more eagerly and with great desire to see you face to face, because we wanted to come to you—I, Paul, again and again—but Satan hindered us. For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy.
Paul speaks here about the Gospel message which the Thessalonians have accepted. He says and insists that the Gospel is not mere men’s words, but the Word of God. In his first letter to the Corinthians, he wrote: “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”
Paul, who was one of the most strict adherents to the Law of Moses prior to his conversion, is now preaching the Cross of Christ, and the Good News that we are saved, not by works, but by the Grace of God. What a change. He lived a consistent life – spotless before his conversion – in his adherence to the requirements of the law. After his conversion to “The Way” as Christianity was originally called, he became one of the main proponents of Grace. He understood how great the gift of grace, because of his history with the law.
Paul always made it a point to pray for those who were in Christ. All the churches that he had contact with, he would lift up in prayer. He gave thanks to God for them, and for their willingness to serve the Lord and live in His grace. Because of this, they were ridiculed and persecuted by those tied to the Law.
We too, need to look at the gift of grace, and realize how great a gift it is. None of us can ever earn God’s forgiveness and mercy. It is available to all who merely realize they can never live up to the requirements of the Law, and accept God’s offer of grace.
Today, spend some time thinking about God’s grace. Thank Him for His mercy. Praise Him for making a way for us to live for eternity with Him.
by Virgil Stripes
Photo: people putting prayers into the cracks of the Wailing Wall, Jerusalem, Israel