Summary: Paul’s life was worthy of imitation. We can make the biggest impact on those around us when we’re role models for them.
The back-story of this book is found in Acts 17. Paul had just left Philippi after the earthquake that occurred while he and Silas were in prison. The jailer and his family were all saved that night and baptized in water.
From Philippi, Paul went to Thessalonica where he was able to reach many people for Christ. Unfortunately, he met some life-threatening opposition and had to leave Thessalonica after only three weeks.
When he left, he left behind a young still spiritually immature church. In fact, some time later, he received a report from Timothy that the Thessalonians were struggling in their faith. That’s when he decided to write this letter under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
The purpose of his letter was to encourage these new Christians and to get them grounded in Christ and growing spiritually.
Paul’s thoughts are expanded in the beginning of Chapter 2, so that’s going to be the focus of our study.
First, Paul told the Thessalonians two important things here in verse 4:1-God loves you, and 2-He has chosen you.
Remember, this letter was written to encourage the Thessalonians. How many of you could use some encouragement?
Encouragement doesn’t mean that we’re not challenged. Encouragement is not just a pat on the back and some superficial, flattering comments. Sometimes encouraging means challenging someone; giving them a good swift kick in the rear. How many of you could use some encouraging today?
Look at verse 6: “You became imitators of us and of the Lord.
Paul’s life was worthy of imitation. The Thessalonians figured that out very quickly. People can tell pretty soon after meeting you if your life is worthy of imitation. They’re watching.
Right now, this very day, this very moment—is your life worthy of imitation? Are you able to say to people in your life, “Do as I say and as I do?”
Many people don’t want that responsibility. They don’t want to be a role model for anyone.
Illustration: Former NBA star Charles Barkley, the Round Mound of Rebound, is famous for saying, “I’m not a role model.” In spite of the fact that young kids wanted to imitate him, he didn’t want that responsibility. He ignored the fact that his high visibility made it necessary for him to behave with at least an understanding that millions of people were watching him.
We don’t have millions of people watching us but we do have some very important people watching—our families, our friends, our unsaved neighbors. Is your life worthy of imitation by them?
Paul embraced this responsibility. He told the Corinthians, “Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ.” And this is the key for living a life worthy of imitation. Imitate Christ. Follow His example.
Every thing we read about Paul could be easily applied to Jesus, because Paul was just following His example. Paul taught boldly because Jesus taught boldly. Paul faced opposition just as Jesus faced opposition. Paul showed deep concern for people; Jesus had done the same thing.
Here’s the thing—if you want your life to count for something, you must live a life worthy of imitation by imitating Christ.
1 Thessalonians 2:1 (NIV)
You know, brothers, that our visit to you was not a failure.
Paul’s life counted for something. It was not a failure. What about you? Does your life count for something? Is your life worthy of imitation? A life that is worthy of imitation counts for something. It’s not a failure.
1. A life worthy of imitation is a life of courage.
1 Thessalonians 2:2 (NIV)
We had previously suffered and been insulted in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in spite of strong opposition.
Paul was very familiar with opposition. He had faced it at Philippi where they almost killed him for preaching the gospel. But he kept preaching. That took courage.
Paul wasn’t willing to quit because of the message he was preaching. It was a powerful message and a life-changing message. And God had entrusted him with that message.
1 Thessalonians 2:3-4 (NIV)
For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you. On the contrary, we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts.
We have been entrusted with the same message. It takes courage on our behalf to deliver it. It takes courage to bring up Jesus in a conversation but it must be done. It takes courage to invite someone to church to hear about Jesus but it must be done. There’s strong opposition to the message of Christ but it must be done if you want to make your life count for something and if you want to live a life worthy of imitation.