“1 Therefore, when we could not stand it any longer, we thought it good to be left behind at Athens alone, 2 and sent Timothy, our brother and God’s fellow worker in the Good News of Christ, to establish (strengthen) you, and to comfort (encourage) your faith; 3 that no one be moved by these afflictions (pressure, tribulation, persecution). For you know that we are appointed (destined) to this task.” 1 Thessalonians 3:1-3 NHEB (All words in ( ) are other meanings of the previous word in Biblical Greek and inserted by me for your understanding).
After our class in the Institute of Biblical Studies (Empowered Ministry#4) this past Tuesday evening, one of my older students who has diligently studied his Greek for many years, came to me to share something he found during our class study. He traced a word (as he often does) and found a precious nugget. We enjoyed the nugget, and I took the time to research it after class. It indeed was a delightful nugget of truth. As I have thought about it during this week, I wanted to put it in a post to share with you.
Notice in verse #3 (the others precede it here, so we keep it in a proper context), that Paul tells the Christians in Thessalonica that he has sent Timothy to them to encourage them, so they do not become discouraged and moved in their hearts away from the truth of the gospel. “…that no one be moved by these afflictions.” He had told them they would experience some of the same types of affliction (notice optional words in the passage above) that he was experiencing and did experience when he preached the Gospel. He wanted to warn them that the good news of Jesus Christ will get them in trouble with religious people as well as idol worshippers. As he was reaffirming his love and concern for them, he used a word that is translated here as “moved.” He did not want them to be moved from believing. Then he told them they are appointed (destined as he is) for such pressure.
One of the primary meanings of the Greek word used for “moved” is “to wag the tail.” In other words, our attitude toward opposition is to greet it with a welcome joy and knowledge that it is what we are appointed to experience.
Years ago, one of my mentors who is now with the Lord, during a time when I was often misunderstood and opposed, said to me, “Iris, when such things begin to happen to you, get out your butter and knife because the Lord is about to give you bread.” I thought that was such a strange thing to say, but just a few days later, something I did to bless another person, was twisted into something I had not intended at all. As I drove away from their home in tears, the phrase my mentor had said came to my mind. I dried my tears and began to worship and praise my Lord. My heart was lifted into hope, and love just flowed from me to the one who was troubling me.
Did He give me bread? Oh yes, an entire banquet, but it was a matter of Spirit at first, and not physically for a long while. But I began to rejoice and that held me through that time and much more opposition in peace and “wagging my tail” — I was not moved. Eventually, that all reversed in a rather dynamic way.
His promises are true, and as we discover more and more about how we are to live in the Spirit, we will learn to rise above the pain into His joy. Thank you, Lord, for making these things clear and empowering us to enjoy you — deeply in the middle of rejection and pain.