Sunday, 23 July 2017
For what thanks can we render to God for you, for all the joy with which we rejoice for your sake before our God, 1 Thessalonians 3:9
Paul had just said “For now we live.” This verse is given in response to that, and that response is, “For what thanks can we render to God for you[?]” It is not an affirmation, but a question. It is similar to the words of the 116th Psalm which first asks the question, and then provides an answer –
“What shall I render to the Lord
For all His benefits toward me?
13 I will take up the cup of salvation,
And call upon the name of the Lord.
14 I will pay my vows to the Lord
Now in the presence of all His people.” Psalm 116:12-14
After asking this, and still a part of the question itself, he then begins to fill in what the blessings they have received are in conjunction with the prior verse, “For now we live.” He says, “…for all the joy with which we rejoice for your sake.” Paul and his associates were literally filled with joy, and they went about rejoicing for the sake of those in Thessalonica. They had been found to have held fast to the truth and had not deviated from the gospel. In this, the church would live on, passing the word on to others just as it has been passed on to them. This gave Paul and his companions such great joy that they rejoiced, as it says, “before our God.”
Their rejoicing wasn’t just a rejoicing as if they had merited it – “We won converts and they are obedient to us!” Rather, it was a rejoicing before God – “The gospel which we were blessed to share has taken root, and God is glorified through it!” This is what Paul is telling them. They were elated to know that the message of Christ had taken root and would continue on.
Life application: Are you willing to rejoice with other churches that you do not attend when they bring souls to Christ. It is not an “us against them” thing which occurs in the church. It is always a “for Christ” thing which should occur. Let us be content to see any properly run church, which is grounded in the word of God and directed to the true gospel, flourish and grow.
Lord God, help us in the church not to be in a battle of “us against them,” but rather that we will be “for the name of Christ and for Your glory.” May those in one church not be jealous of the success of another, but rejoice in it – as long as You are glorified, and the word is rightly divided, then may it be so. Petty differences which have nothing to do with sound doctrine solve nothing, and only detract from what we should be doing for the lost of the world. Help us in this, Lord God. Amen.