I remember many years ago starting a new job working in a warehouse receiving shipments and putting them into their appropriate places. For the first three months I was on probation, I was working through a period of time testing my abilities and character. Once past the three months I received a letter from the president of the company welcoming me to the “family”, I was given a formal evaluation with encouraging responses and hopes of a bright future within the company.
As new believers working through some of their first experiences particularly in the face of adversity would have been encouraged by the words of Paul’s first letter to them. Reading the introduction to this letter reminded me of that letter (in the sense of being encouraged) I received early on in my job as a warehouse receiver.
“We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and you endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thess.1:3)
“You became imitators of us and of the Lord” (vs.6)
“…you became a model to all the believers” (vs.7)
“…your faith in God has become known everywhere. (vs.8)
These words of encouragement and acknowledgment for the Thessalonians would have bolstered their confidence and faith in the work that they were doing, learning for themselves to continue the work of Paul and the other apostles after they left.
Imitation… verse 6 holds one of the essential keys to leadership in the church today. When we as leaders do the best we can to model the life of Christ in all that we do, we effectively become better leaders. Imitating Christ’s love should reveal through us His perfect example of love and forgiveness. Even as new Christians the Thessalonians became models to all the believers, it was their faith in God that became known.