As I was re-reading from the first few verses of I Thessalonians again this morning, something jumped out at me that I hadn’t noticed before. In the fifth verse Paul talks about the Gospel of Jesus Christ saying: “For we brought the Good News to you, not with words only, but also with power and the Holy Spirit, and with complete certainty of its truth.” (God’s Word ©) The phrase “with complete certainty” seemed to be flashing in red and my interest was piqued!
Other translations define this as “deep conviction (ISV), full conviction (ESV),” or “much assurance (KJV).” It definitely seemed like the Apostle was trying to make a point here, so I looked up the original Greek words as translated in the King James Version. I think Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible put the most accurate spin on Paul’s point by stating that “The Holy Spirit which was given you left no doubt on your mind…” Why else would Paul use multiple words to explain the intensity and depth of the Thessalonians conviction of the Word of God?
Paul was basically telling us that these people knew that they knew and were totally sold out and committed to the Word. Something happened to these folks when they heard and assimilated the Word that was taught to them by Paul and his evangelistic team. The Apostolic Bible Polyglot which is an interlineal Septuagint and Greek New Testament translation from Greek to English defines this verse stating “that our good news did not take place in you in word only, but also in power, in the Holy Spirit and in much full assurance.”
After my study this morning, I believe that this is probably one of the more accurate renditions of Paul’s original meaning when he wrote this particular letter. When meditating on this verse I heard the small still voice on the inside of me saying that the Thessalonian’s “faith was very solid, very consistent and was visibly active and successful!” Then I sensed the Spirit stressing the point that “they had no hesitation or vacillation.”
Those two words caused me to sit up straight at the kitchen table so I looked them up in the dictionary. I have a quick link to Dictionary.com on my computer home page which makes this process very simple! What I found quickly became an “Oh I see…” when I thought about some of experiences over the last four years. The word hesitation is described as “a delay due to uncertainty of mind or fear. A state of doubt or uncertainty.” Vacillation is “a state of indecision or irresolution; fluctuation.”
These words clearly defined the types of individuals that we had to work with during the first three years after the initial diagnosis of my wife’s health deficiencies. Now I understand the constant and increasing frustration, hurt and confusion that I was dealing with! Having returned to our home town under the specific direction of the Holy Spirit to “reconnect with our network of family and friends” I came to the place where I felt like I had been side-swiped by some folks we thought we could depend on. What we experienced was some Christians with little faith, faith that vacillated from week to week, or faith that was paused because of fear!
Out of this mess there arose another set of extended family members and friends whose faith, love for us and consistency of their reaching out to us I had greatly underestimated in the past! It seemed like the Lord had a lesson for us as well as a whole new network of family and friends that we could depend on. The Lord’s words to Joshua concerning the fact that “I will never neglect you or abandon you” (Joshua 1:5 God’s Word ©) have become a living reality to us throughout this entire journey!
A major part of the lesson has been to take what we experienced from others and turn it inward to see just how I respond and reach out to others in need. As one’s who were always on the other side of the coin, reaching out as part of the pastoral staff to those in our congregation, I wanted to make sure that my input had always been loving, free from judgment and as gentle and patient as Jesus’s was. But what I saw surprised me! My response was not always as truly “Christian” as I have recently come to understand Paul, James, John, Jesus and other Biblical writers talk about!
Over the last couple of years I have had to make some quick adjustments, or in some cases, a complete turnaround in the way I do certain things when it comes to unconditionally loving others. I don’t want those that I reach out to have the same experiences that I went through! How about you? Have you ever taken the time for a little introspection? If you did, what would you find? If Paul wrote about his interactions with you would he make a similar comment as he did about the Thessalonians saying “that our good news did not take place in you in word only, but also in power, in the Holy Spirit and in much full assurance.”?
Gives you a bit of food for thought to consider over this weekend doesn’t it? Have a great weekend. Stay in tune to His Word and keep asking yourself… “What or Whom am I expecting today?”