July 11, 2010
Building Strong Friendships in Christ
Strengthening and Encouraging Your Faith Today
“and we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s fellow worker in the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you as to your faith,”
1 Thessalonians 3:2
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Now and then people walk up to me at the beach and start to talk with me. Sometimes I mention to them that God sent them to talk with me. I actually know that all the people I meet were sent by God to see me, and to hear from God through the Bible. I love to help people read and understand the Bible, and, in so doing, get to know God and love Him. Loving God starts always with accepting God’s free gift of salvation. We accept His gift by faith. In 1 Peter 2:24, we read: “and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.” In this brief verse, God explains that my sins were laid upon Jesus as He died on that cross. He died in my place for my sins. Now I have died to sin and live to righteousness.
The ministry team sent Timothy to see how the Thessalonians were doing. I recall the proverb that says “He cuts off his own feet and drinks violence who sends a message by the hand of a fool” (Proverbs 26:6). Timothy was no fool, but rather a very able servant of God and dependable messenger. He often served Paul by visiting churches, and encouraging believers. The New Testament books of 1 and 2 Timothy reveal Paul’s love for Timothy, just as the Book of Acts chronicles the travels of Paul and Timothy. Timothy had given his life to serving God by ministering to Paul, and being part of God’s ministry team to the young churches spread across the Mediterranean world. Paul describes Timothy as a brother and a fellow-worker in the Gospel of Christ.
Part of forming strong bonds of ministry includes developing proper relationships among the team members. Jesus taught us that He alone would be our teacher, and no man should use that title. Furthermore, all titles such as rabbi, father, teacher, and leader should be forbidden, because we are all brothers in Christ (Matthew 23:6-12). The principle of equality among believers controls the relationships among the team members, because each of them has been uniquely gifted by God to carry out the different ministries assigned by God to each member of the body of Christ.
Finally, notice that Paul counted upon Timothy to strengthen and encourage the faith of the Thessalonians. Every day in ministry I try to strengthen and encourage the faith of believers. Recently I met with a friend of mine just before sunrise at the beach. We prayed together, talked together, and read the word together. He strengthened my faith for the day, and I encouraged him to walk with Jesus today and love people Jesus brought into his life today. God loves to use believers to be messengers of strength and encouragement.
So, we learn some more about building strong friendships in Christ.
● Strong bonds of friendship form when we act as brothers and fellow-servants of the Gospel of Christ.
● Strong bonds of friendship grow when we strengthen and encourage the faith of our friends in Christ.
● We harm our bonds of friendship when we isolate ourselves and refuse to visit friends, especially young believers who need our friendship, and the strength and encouragement that spending time with them will bring.
Application for Today
Today, I want to be a messenger of strength and encouragement to believers, so that they will love Jesus more today. Who will God send you to speak to today?