As Paul and his companions travelled with the message of Christ their reception was different in each place. We have had the same experience ourselves. What is very pleasing is that in countries where our expectations were low for teaching the truth about the Bible, good progress has been made. Countries such as Nepal, Bangladesh, Cambodia and now Myanmar. And other places such as Iran, Afghanistan and the widespread interest in Pakistan.
Today we read Paul’s letters to the believers in Thessalonica. In the first chapter he comments that “they received the word in much affliction” (verse 6), also how they “became an example … for not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere” (verses 7,8). No wonder Paul is so enthusiastic in what he writes!
In the second chapter he recalls; “we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict … we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts. For we never came with words of flattery … nor with a pretext for greed …” (verses 2,4,5). It is tragic that so often the motive in preaching has been wrong. God will judge those with the wrong motive. Writing to the Hebrews Paul said, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (10:13). Those with the right motive respond to Paul’s call to “walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory” (verse 12 – today’s chapter).
Finally, note the point he made at the end of the first chapter – that we “wait for his son from heaven … Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come”. This reminded us of what we read in Hosea today, the fate of those who have no time for God, “they shall be like the morning mist or like the dew that goes early away… or like smoke from a window” (13:3) to become no more, presumably not even to know they ever existed.
But, the really vital thing is for us to each ask ourselves; ‘What does God find when he tests my heart?’