But as we read further in Paul’s letter to them, we find out even more. This lifestyle, living for God, wasn’t a private thing. They weren’t just “closet Christians”. Here’s what Paul said about them.
And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia — your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it, for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead — Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.
1 Thessalonians 1:7-10
All over the region, people were talking about how the Thessalonians had received the Gospel. Of course, it was a Gospel that included a demonstration of God’s power. They allowed it to get into their hearts and change their lives.
The first thing that we see is that they were turned around. They had formerly been worshipping idols, but now they are servants of God. It takes the power of God to make that kind of change.
Serving idols is easy. As a matter of fact, our culture is full of idolatry. No, not the carved images, but we serve man-made idols. There are those who worship the gods of education, finance, entertainment, or sports.
The thing about idolatry is that it makes you feel good about what you can do. You can compare yourself to those around you.
“Look at me! I’m smarter than you.” “I’m more athletic than you.” “I’ve got more money than you.”
The reason it’s hard to turn to God from this is because it requires a whole new mindset. Once I turn to Christ, it has nothing to do with me and everything to do with God. It’s not about what I can do, but what the Lord is doing in me.
When we serve idols, we’re actually serving ourselves. In the kingdom of God we serve Him. God sets the agenda for us.
The secret to their faithfulness was that they kept their eyes on Jesus. Part of Paul’s testimony about them was that they were actively waiting for Jesus. With their focus on Him, they were able to serve with joy.
Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.
The word zeal means to be very eager to serve the Lord. I think that’s what’s missing in the lives of many believers. They have no eagerness to serve God. Why is that?
According to this verse, it requires spiritual fervor. The word translated as fervor literally means to be boiling over. It requires power to heat water to the boiling point. Left to itself it remains at room temperature – lukewarm.
If we will spend time with the Holy Spirit, then His power will be at work in our spirit. He can give us that spiritual fervor that we need to serve God with true zeal.
Then, just like the Thessalonian believers that Paul commended, our faith will become known to all those around us.
Question: How “hot” is your spiritual life right now? What can you do to increase it?
© Nick Zaccardi 2017