Cooperation Through Faithfulness
Our text on cooperation today is 1 Thess. 1:3-8. Paul went into Thessalonica to preach the gospel. A congregation was begun, but Paul did not have a very long opportunity to stay in the city because of persecution (Acts 17:1-10). However, those who were converted were very dedicated to the Lord. It is that dedication that brings our lesson today. Let’s notice three statements that touch on our subject.
- They received the word in much affliction (1:6). If you read the reference in Acts 17, you read about some of that affliction. Brethren, persecution is personal. We often encourage others to stand strong because we are not the ones suffering. If I am faithful even when persecuted, my faith will encourage another to be strong (Heb. 10:32-34). If I am unfaithful and unwilling to suffer for the Lord, then my lack of faith discourages others. Simply by being faithful to God individually, I will collectively, cooperatively, and sometimes unknowingly, strengthen the hand of other Christians.
- Pursuant to this same idea, Paul says of the Thessalonians that they were an example to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia (1:7). Brothers and sisters, faithfulness begets faithfulness. People will hear about our life. They will see our life. The will know about the results of our work and godliness. One individual Christian in one congregation can strengthen and encourage a struggling or a strong Christian in another place. Our character and faith will be passed along on the grapevine (talk, bulletin, article, relatives). When you are faithful to God, you are holding hands with every other faithful child of God in the struggle against Satan. God used this truth when Elijah felt alone. Elijah did not know them, but there were yet 7000 that had not bowed the knee to Baal.
- The faithful cooperated in evangelism. Paul’s purpose in life was the same as the Lord’s, to seek and save the lost (Lk. 19:10; 1 Cor. 9:22). But in regard to Macedonia and Achaia, he had a great deal of help. The Thessalonians “sounded out the word of the Lord” so that Paul “need not speak anything” (1:8). Without Paul being there, they were cooperating with him in the great commission. When we take the gospel to our community individually, we cooperate with every faithful Christian everywhere in saving the world. Great works are going on in Asia, Africa, Europe and North and South America. But it is no greater than you teaching a friend or relative the truth in your community or family.
Let us determine that the Lord’s church will be a mighty force of “one” by all of us cooperating through faithfulness where we are living. Together, we are more.