5/22/16 An Unpleasant Appointment

Saturday, May 21, 2016


1 Thess. 3:3

Morning Meditation 5/22/16

“That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto.”

One of the great Churches in the New Testament was the Church at Thessalonica. It was born in troubled times. Hebert Lockyer says, “The two Thessalonian epistles mark the beginning of Paul’s writings.”

These introductory words are given by Paul to comfort them concerning the afflictions they were having to endure. There is something we need to remember. There is always a divine viewpoint for the things we go through. Nothing can happen to me that God does not allow. And if he allows it, it is for my ultimate good. Someone said, “If the oyster could talk it would speak of the suffering through which it passed as it formed the pearl around the grain of sand or whatever caused the pain that caused the pearl’s formation for the protection of the oyster.”

John Gill believes that the Christians in Thessalonica are concerned about Paul’s afflictions and was telling them that they should not be moved by this. I do not agree with this interpretation though I do not rule out this entering one’s mind. When someone is preaching the gospel and they are persecuted and thrown in jail fairly regularly, one might be tempted to consider that he is not doing something right and he might do it a little different and stay out of trouble. Or, one might think, if Christianity is going to get me into this kind of trouble, I’m not for sure I want it.

I’m convinced that these Christians were being persecuted for their faith. They were going through some of the same things Paul was going through and he wants to encourage them in their afflictions.

The words “That no man should be moved” state Paul’s concern. The words “no man” mean “no one” in the sense that no one is excluded. The words “should be moved” (saino) mean “to wag the tail.” The word is used of wagging the tail of dogs. It also is used to convey the idea of “to agitate, trouble or be disturbed.” It is a present passive infinitive. The present tense means Paul is saying “Don’t be wagged around like the tail on a dog by these present afflictions” i.e., the afflictions being the dog that is attempting to wag them (the Christian’s Paul is addressing) back and forth. And of course Satan whispering in their ear during the times of affliction that if what you believed was right, you would not be suffering as you are. What Christian has not had to resist Satan in matters like this when the times are rough? The passive voice means that Paul is dealing with the effects that the afflictions could have on them.

The words “by these afflictions” is the focus of Paul’s concern. Paul knows what pressure afflictions can bring to the rational thought. This is the way Satan approached Eve. He reasoned with her. His reasoning reflected on God and make him seem unkind to withhold such knowledge from her. Satan has not changed his tactics. Afflictions give Satan an opportunity to accuse God of unkindness. The preposition translated “by” (en) is “a primary preposition denoting (fixed) position (in place, time or state), and (by implication) instrumentality.” So it could mean “in” these afflictions which would be pointing to afflictions they were presently enduring. It is “these” and not “this” i.e., many afflictions and not referring to a particular one. The word “afflictions” (thlipsis) meaning “a pressing, pressing together, pressure; metaphorically, oppression, affliction, tribulation, distress, straits.”

When the Christians were being put in prison for their faith in Russia, my heart stayed disturbed over the unfairness and criminality of a system of law that would subject its citizens to this kind of unjust and cruel treatment. I remember going to the hardware store and buying a chain and putting it beside my bed so that I would never go to bed without remembering I had brethren in bonds that I must pray for. Albania is in turmoil at the present time. Christians are in a very threatening situation and no doubt many have died because there is no law in place to protect them. We need to pray daily and hourly for Christians in Albania. We also need to pray for Missionaries who are riding out the storm and staying with the Albanian Christians to encourage and comfort them in this time of “affliction.” Pray that a government will be put in place by the Sovereignty of God that can reestablish law and order to this suffering country.

I am not taking away anything from the statement just made. Multitudes of Christians in this country are going through afflictions of a different kind. When I start thinking, space would not allow me to mention areas of genuine suffering Christians are faced with in this country today. You may not be threatened with prison for your faith in Christ. It may be something like “No one likes me at school because there are so many things I can’t do as a Christian that the others are doing. And when they ask me why I will not participate, I tell them I am a Christian.” Then they say, “I am a Christian also. I don’t believe there is anything wrong with it. So now they think I am a fanatic.” If you think this is not a real affliction for a young person in school, ask them. Some people may have a problem with this and say this “affliction” should not be compared. I read where Spurgeon said one time that he believed that it would be easier to give your life as a martyr than to live your life as a godly Christian. That is not a quote but it says in substance what he said. I agree. If you die as a martyr, you don’t have a decision to make. It is made for you. But if you live for Christ in the midst of a society totally given over the god of money and sports, you will have to decide and suffer from your peers. The jail you are in, you made the decision to go there. The door is unlocked and you can walk out anytime you want. If you stay there, it will be the love you have for Jesus that binds you to the alter of self humiliation and sacrifice for his glory.

What about the man or woman who finds their mate committing adultery and they walk out of the marriage and all of your attempts to save the marriage fail. Do you believe that person is afflicted? Do you think it is possible for that “affliction” to wag that innocent Christian like a tail on a dog? Paul says to you “That no man should be moved by these afflictions.” I’m going to tell you and I hope you listen. I would rather be in prison for my faith than be under the mental bondage that I would be under if my wife or me should be unfaithful to God and one another concerning our marriage vows. We are one flesh. One is afflicted when half of your life is severed. What should we do when these kinds of afflictions come? We should pray and encourage and help a brother or sister when these things happen.

Do you want to be cruel? Then suggest to one of those Russian pastors who spent years in prison for his faith that it was really his fault. That he had no one to blame but himself. Do you want to be that kind of a person? Then don’t criticize the young person who is having a life struggle with peer pressure. Don’t criticize the man or woman who is under awesome affliction over an unfaithful mate.

In closing let me say, we must not give up our faith, we must remain steadfast no matter what the afflictions are. We need to pray for one another and live godly lives at all costs. There is no valid excuse for failing to serve the Lord.

May God bless you.

In Christ

Bro. White

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