“And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit…“
in much affliction,
After the Thessalonians followed the gospel team in sharing the gospel, they encountered “much affliction.” The word “affliction” carries the idea of oppression or tribulation. They bore witness to the gospel, knowing full well that wrath would rain upon them if they did so. Note that they did not simply receive some suffering; they received “much” affliction.
At the founding of the church in Thessalonica, Jason opened his home to the gospel team. He absorbed “much affliction” because he did. The Jews “dragged” Jason to the city authorities. Imagine the indignity of that!
“But the Jews who were not persuaded, becoming envious, took some of the evil men from the marketplace, and gathering a mob, set all the city in an uproar and attacked the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people. But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some brethren to the rulers of the city, crying out, ‘These who have turned the world upside down have come here too. ‘Jason has harbored them, and these are all acting contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying there is another king—Jesus.’ And they troubled the crowd and the rulers of the city when they heard these things. So when they had taken security from Jason and the rest, they let them go” (Acts 17:5-9).
The city officials took “security” from Jason and those with him. These believers paid a financial price for serving the Lord.
If we are going to advance the cause of Christ throughout the world, we will pay a price for it.
It will cost us something to witness to the gospel (3:3).
“Therefore, when we could no longer endure it, we thought it good to be left in Athens alone, and sent Timothy, our brother and minister of God, and our fellow laborer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you and encourage you concerning your faith, that no one should be shaken by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that we are appointed to this. For, in fact, we told you before when we were with you that we would suffer tribulation, just as it happened, and you know. For this reason, when I could no longer endure it, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter had tempted you, and our labor might be in vain” (1 Thessalonians 3:1-5).
The word “appointed” indicates that God ordains afflictions to those who share their faith. Amazingly, some people believe that when they share their faith, they will never have problems again. The opposite is the case. They will collect more problems, and the more effective they become in their witness. Becoming dynamic Christians will cost us something.
Has your Christianity cost you anything? Did it affect your job? Have you lost some business because of it? Did you lose some friends? We pay the price for witnessing the gospel. Becoming dynamic Christians may cause some problems in our family.
“And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5: 3-5).
”My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience” (James 1: 2-3).