I encourage you to read 1Thess 1:1-7 carefully. In a nutshell it says this: The Christians at Thessalonica followed the Apostles and The Lord Jesus Christ in great Holy Spirit joy and working of love - although they were greatly persecuted for their faith. Therefore, they became examples to us. The word "ensample" used in the KJV means more than just an example; it means a die or mold. Paul was saying that their love and joy in the midst of affliction - for the Word’s sake - is exactly what every Christian should emulate.
Paul writes the same thing to the Hebrews, who were a group of Jewish converts to Christianity, who also were suffering for their faith in Christ; yet, they also labored in love, and ministered to the saints (Heb 6:10). You see, our work of love can abound (or increase) - and should abound - in the midst of affliction and hardship. We abound in love when God, Who is love, abounds in us. The carnal man makes excuses to act hatefully or be depressed. “After all”, he thinks, “My circumstances are bad. I deserve to act like a jerk”. The spirit led man is poured into the mold of the Thessalonians. Not only does his love not grow cold in affliction and trial, it actually increases and abounds more and more!
A chief way to abound in love is to acknowledge God within us. Phm 1:6- “That the communication of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus.” Php 1:9 “And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment.” 1Th 3:12 “And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you.”
In 2Cor 8:1-9, we see the Thessalonians commended by Paul once again. He told the Corinthian church that the Thessalonians (Macedonia) gave with great joy, even though they were in deep poverty and enduring a great trial of affliction. They practically begged Paul to receive their generous gift. Paul then prayed that the Corinthians would follow their example in the grace of giving. Their love caused them to generously give with joy - even though they were suffering adversity. Again, we are called to be poured into their mold.
In 1Thess 3:1-7, we see that Paul sent Timothy to see how the Thessalonians were holding up in their afflictions. He was worried that they may have been faltering. However, Timothy brought back to Paul the good report that they were continuing in their faith and love. Again, we see that we can abound in faith and love, even in the midst of adversity.
We must be rooted and grounded in love (Eph 3:17-19, Col 2:6-7). We must be secure, firmly planted and established, deeply rooted in God’s love. Why? Because if we are not rooted in love, when affliction arises, we will be offended (scandalized - enticed to sin, apostatize, tripped up). Mk 4:16-17 “And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness; And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution arises for the word's sake, immediately they are offended.”
So, how are we to be rooted (established, firmly planted) in Love? 1. Keep God's commandments (Jn 15:10, Rom 13:9-10, 2Jn 6, 1Jn 5:3, 1Jn 2:5). 2. Know who we are in Christ (1Jn 4:10, 16-18). 3. Be a giver (1Jn 3:17). 4. Don't love the world (1Tim 6:11, 1Jn 2:15). 5. Put others before yourself (Jn 15:12-13, Philp 2:1-4). 6. Pray in the Holy Spirit (Jude 20-21). Doing these things out of a pure heart and love for God, will firmly root you in Him. They will make you strong in faith and love, so that you will not be “offended” when affliction comes, but will abound in God’s love.
Don’t let trials discourage you. We are warned clearly in Scripture that we will have tribulation in this world. We are also told to be of good cheer, because our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has overcome the world. Don’t let trials steal your joy and extinguish your love. You can rejoice and abound in love, even in the midst of affliction. The Thessalonians proved that, and Paul said that we are capable of the same grace. May we rise to the challenge in this dark hour in Jesus Name. Until next time, rejoice in The Lord!