In this chapter, Paul is writing to the church in Thessalonica and sharing with them the encouraging report that came back to him from Timothy who he had sent there in his place. Two great lessons here: (1) Paul is holding himself fully accountable to the result, even though he was not there and sent someone else in his place, and (2) in sending Timothy, Paul is sending a person he fully trusts and knows that he can count on. And when Paul receives the official report from Timothy, he responds in this way:
“For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord.” – 1 Thessalonians 3:8
This verse really hit me today. Paul is so joyful, so moved, that he can’t hide it. It’s like a whole new level of joy and satisfaction and life. And if you have ever brought someone to know Christ, and watch them grow in their faith, you know where Paul is coming from. It is so deeply satisfying that words can barely express it. We see a person transformed both in the flesh, and in their spirit. We start to see joy, love, peace, grace, and all good things that come to us through the love of the Father. We know the great commission is for us to go and make disciples, but Paul expresses here in this chapter the result of doing that. We can connect with the joy that we experience in doing so.
Image courtesy of: KenSBrown
Being able to stand firm in the Lord, with the support of our brothers and sisters in Christ, we are truly blessed. Especially when so many are all about this world and not of the Word. One of the highlights in my day is getting to spend time with my brothers and sisters in Christ. At work, at home, with friends… those are my brothers and sisters. “For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” – Matthew 12:50.
So how can we truly understand this joy? What kind of joy can we expect to have? How exactly do we define joy? In the context of which Paul is referencing, the Greek word for joy is “chara”. Paul uses this here, but also deeply in his letter to the Philippians. But many religious leaders have studied the word joy and when you look at all of these interpretations, it is pretty amazing what we can learn. A few excerpts:
- Alfred Plummer (commenting on 1 John 1:4) writes that joy is “that serene happiness, which is the result of conscious union with God and good men, of conscious possession of eternal life…and which raises us above pain and sorrow and remorse.”
- Donald Campbell writes that “chara” describes “a deep and abiding inner rejoicing which was promised to those who abide in Christ (John 15:11). It does not depend on circumstances because it rests in God’s sovereign control of all things.”
- Martyn Lloyd-Jones wrote that when we give a definition for joy, we do not go to a dictionary; we go to the New Testament instead. This is something quite peculiar which cannot be explained; it is a quality which belongs to the Christian life in its essence, so that in our definition of joy we must be very careful that it conforms to what we see in our Lord. The world has never seen anyone who knew joy as our Lord knew it, and yet He was “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” So our definition of joy must somehow correspond to that. Joy is something very deep and profound, something that affects the whole and entire personality. In other words it comes to this – There is only one thing that can give true joy and that is contemplation of the Lord Jesus Christ.” Joy is the deep-down sense of well-being that abides in the heart of the person who knows all is well between himself and the Lord. It is not an experience that comes from favorable circumstances and in fact can still be manifest when those circumstances are the most painful and severe (John 16:20, 21, 22). Emotional fluctuations do not trouble this source of joy for it is a gift of God to believers who manifest it as they cultivate the fruit of His Spirit (Galatians 5:22-note). Paul speaks here that it is more than just a mood. This is a deep confidence that was rooted in God’s sovereign control of the universe, His on unchanging divine promises & eternal spiritual realities including the assurance of ultimate victory for those in Christ.” He satisfies my mind; He satisfies my emotions; He satisfies my every desire. He and His great salvation include the whole personality and nothing less, and in Him I am complete. Joy, in other words, is the response and the reaction of the soul to a knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.
* There is so much more great material here: (REF: Life in Christ Studies in 1 John by Martyn Lloyd-Jones)
What a great day to be filled with the joy of the Lord! What a great study and revelation today. May you have a day filled with the joy of the Lord, and be renewed continually!
Dear heavenly Father, thank you for your Word today! Thank you for leading me to the study of the original language that Paul wrote his letters – (Hellenistic Greek). Thank you for blessing me and for all that you have provided. I am overwhelmed with your goodness. Let the joy of the Lord be my strength. Help me to walk in this joy and in your presence all throughout the day. Fill me with your Holy Spirit, and let your power and goodness abide in me and flow through me at all times and in all circumstances, in Jesus mighty name. Amen.
Today’s full reading: 1 Chronicles 22-24; 1 Thessalonians 3
Scripture References From Today’s Reflection:
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,” – Galatians 5:22
“The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.” – Psalm 28:7
“The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. – Lamentations 3:22–33
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