July 16, 2010

Building Strong Friendships in Christ

Comforted by Your Faith Today

“for this reason, brethren, in all our distress and affliction we were comforted about you through your faith;”

 1 Thessalonians 3:7

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      My friend purchased a condominium recently.  He put tile flooring in, and painted it, before he moved in.  He then hired movers to help him move into the condo.  Weeks before the move, he went to the condo and received a key for the elevator and told them the day he was moving in.  As he arrived with the movers on the appointed day, he noticed that the rugs near the elevator were being replaced, and signs were up regarding the rugs.  My friend faced a real problem.  He was paying the movers by the hour to sit because they could not unload.  He contacted the condo and they said he could not move in that day.  In fact, one person used very harsh language to tell him he could not move in because of the rugs.  He moved just his bed in that day, and left the rest of his belongings on the moving truck.  Before he left, he told the person who spoke harshly to him that he was leaving, to go and pray for the person who had spoken so harshly.  He prayed, we prayed, and the next day apologies were made, and he moved right in.  His faith prevailed in the way he handled a very difficult situation.  At the beach table, we have talked a lot about how kindness overcomes harshness.  The story of my friend’s faith in responding to angry, harsh words encouraged us all.

     In 1 Thessalonians 3:7, Paul talks about the comfort the ministry team experienced when Timothy brought word to them of the Thessalonians’ faith.  You see, hearing about the continuing faith of our brothers and sisters in Christ encourages us to continue in our faith.  More particularly, Paul says that as the ministry team experienced their own distress and affliction, the steadfast faith of the Thessalonians provided comfort for the team.      

       This word “comfort” means generally encouraged, cheered up, consoled.  It has a variety of meanings, depending upon the context.  In this verse, it carries the idea of being separated physically, but brought near spiritually and emotionally, resulting in cheerful lifting and settling of the troubles caused by distress and affliction.

      We should take a strong lesson from this verse.  We need to stay in touch with other believers, with whom we have shared our lives, so that we may be encouraged by their faith.  Not only do we live together in a world-wide community of faith, but we also need the strength of faith shared among us to be comforted by the faith of others.  One source of comfort will be the faith of our friends in Christ.

       Notice in this passage that the ministry team sent Timothy to learn how the Thessalonians were doing spiritually.  Sometimes, you have to take the initiative, like sending a person, an e-mail, a telephone call, or whatever, to learn how your friends in Christ are doing when you are not there physically.  Receiving good news can help you face distress and affliction, so sometimes you have to reach out for that news.

        So, we learn some more about building strong friendships in Christ.

       ●  Strong bonds of friendship form when we hear that our friends in Christ continue in their faith.

     ●  Strong bonds of friendship grow when we face distress and affliction while hearing about the continuing faith of our friends in Christ.

     ●  We harm our bonds of friendship when we walk away from our faith.  When we sin, we affect not only our own lives, but also everyone else connected to our lives by faith in Christ.  Furthermore, we grieve the Holy Spirit, and displease the Father and Son.  So, we should all live together in faith, encouraging one another by our continued faith.  It will really encourage those who are suffering distress and affliction when they hear from us that we are doing well in Christ by faith.    

Application for Today

        Today, I want to hear from my friends that they are standing firm in their faith, so it will encourage me today.  I also want my friends to know that I am standing in my faith, so it will comfort them as they face distress and affliction.  What will your friends hear from you today?

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