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For we are God’s co-workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.
1 Corinthians 3:9
A humorous poster sold by Despair, Inc. mimics the motivational art displayed in the workplace. It shows a runner dropping the baton in a relay race and describes the reality of teamwork this way: “Ensuring that your hard work can always be ruined by someone else’s incompetence.” We chuckle (and maybe nod in recognition!) at this description, but the fact is that teams remain an important feature of the church’s ministry.
Paul often relied on the help of others. Timothy was of particular value to his ministry. He described Timothy to the Philippian church in these words: “I have no one else like him, who will show genuine concern for your welfare” (Phil. 2:20). Although Timothy was Paul’s protégé, today’s passage describes him as a peer. Paul calls him “our brother” and a “co-worker in God’s service” (this phrase could also be translated “God’s fellow worker”). Perhaps this was meant to further reassure the Thessalonians of Paul’s continuing interest in them. Timothy was not the second-string team. He was Paul’s most trusted associate.
Timothy’s mission in Thessalonica was threefold. First, he was sent to continue the work Paul had begun by building them up in the faith. Second, Timothy was sent to reassure the Thessalonian believers, “so that no one would be unsettled by these trials” (v. 3). Were these Paul’s trials? Or was he afraid that in his absence the Thessalonians would question the validity of the gospel because the suffering it had brought upon them? Paul’s language is inclusive and probably has both in view. Timothy was sent to reassure these young believers that their suffering did not fall outside the scope of God’s plan for them.
The third element of Timothy’s mission was to reassure Paul. Timothy’s first-hand account of their continued faith and affection was a source of encouragement to Paul in the midst of distress and persecution (v. 8). Timothy’s ministry to the Thessalonians was an extension of Paul’s, but it was also a ministry to Paul.
Apply the Word
Is there someone whose ministry has helped you grow in your faith? Perhaps it is a favorite teacher or Sunday school leader. It may be your pastor. When was the last time you let them know how God has used them in your life? Write a letter, note, or email of encouragement to someone today to let them know that their ministry has not been in vain.
Pray with Us
Please include in your prayers today Dr. Junias Venugopal, provost and dean of Education. Ask the Lord to guide
Dr. Venugopal’s ministry at Moody and to encourage him in his day-to-day leadership responsibilities.