27th October 2017

When You Can’t Help In Person…

Therefore, when [the suspense of separation and our yearning for some personal communication from you] became intolerable, we consented to being left behind alone at Athens. And we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s servant in [spreading] the good news (the Gospel) of Christ, to strengthen and establish and to exhort and comfort and encourage you in your faith.
1 Thessalonians 3:1-2 (AMPC)

Try as we might, we can’t do everything. Sometimes, often in fact, we need to trust others to do something we are unable to do.

Paul was in Athens, and had tried time and again to travel north to visit the brethren in Thessalonica, but “Satan hindered” him (1 Thessalonians 2:18). Obviously, it’s not rational for us to blame Satan for every delay to our personal plans, so it must have been something very serious for Paul to use this terminology. Was it opposition from the Jews that prevented his proposed return visits? Or persecution of some sort? Was it his “thorn in the flesh” that Paul mentions in 2 Corinthians 12:7? We don’t know but clearly it was frustrating for him.

Other translations use the word “forbear” or “endure” in verse one. The CEB version is, “So when we couldn’t stand it any longer”. The idea of suspense is involved: what was happening in Thessalonica? Paul’s emotions are high as he misses the people in the church there. His deep affection for them was a matter of record.

So, what was Paul to do? His decision was that he and Silas would remain in Athens while Timothy would go to strengthen and encourage the Thessalonians.

Perhaps there’s a lesson here for us. If circumstances prevent us from helping others in person, is there something else we can do? We don’t all have people we can send in our stead, as Paul had in Timothy, but there are other things we can do. We can send a card or an encouraging letter. Think of something to do.

Help others, even when you can’t do it in person. 

Father, sometimes my life is so busy or out of control that I can’t be with those I love or help others in the way I would like to. Help me, please, through the abiding presence of your Holy Spirit, to find a way to encourage even though I can’t help in person. In Jesus’ name.

Study by James Henderson


About the Author:
James Henderson is the National Ministry Leader for Grace Communion International in the UK and Ireland.

Local Congregation:
You are welcome to attend any of our local congregations in the UK and Ireland. For details of your nearest local congregation, check on our website, www.gracecom.church under the ‘Churches’ tab, or ring +44 (0)1858 437099.

Or email: admin@daybyday.org.uk


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