Endurance is the ability to exert oneself and remain invested over a long period of time, and in the opening verses of chapter 2 we see a picture of endurance.
1 Thessalonians 2:1-2, “1 For you yourselves know, brothers and sisters, that our reception among you was not in vain, 2 but after we had already suffered and been treated abusively in Philippi, as you know, we had the boldness in our God to speak to you the gospel of God amid much opposition.
If anyone knows about the hardships of life, struggle, challenges, and opposition, it was the Apostle Paul. In fact, when you read about the Apostle Paul’s life in general you are going to see patterns of Paul being beaten, stoned, flogged, mocked, shipwrecked, imprisoned, and constantly running up against opposition.
In Thessalonica people were saying that Paul couldn’t be trusted. Thessalonians were saying Paul was seeking financial gain, Paul was telling people what they wanted to hear, and as a result Paul was encountering a great deal of opposition, but did you notice in verse 1 the Apostle Paul writes, “For you yourselves know, brothers and sisters, that our reception among you was not in vain?”
This verse is going to give us the key to endurance, because the word “know” in verse 1 and repeated again in verse 2 is an experiential “know.”
It isn’t an informational “know” like you “know” the information in a textbook, but it is an “experiential” know through relationship.
Their relationships with one another were up close and personal. This isn’t the Apostle Paul elevated in ivory towers speaking down to the Thessalonians, but Paul, Silas, and Timothy’s life was up close and personal with the Thessalonians.
And, they didn’t just do life together, but they were doing life in such a way that the gospel was bearing undeniable fruit in their life, because at the end of verse 1 the Apostle Paul writes, “For you yourselves know, brothers and sisters, that our reception among you was not in vain.”
The word “vain” means empty. Meaning that Paul, Silas, and Timothy, and the Thessalonians have experiential, life on life relationships with one another that was bearing fruit of a transformed life, and this motivated the Apostle Paul to endure.
I have experienced those types of moments throughout the life of North Village Church. I remember when we started the church and someone wrote a check for $10K. I remember when we baptized someone in an apartment pool. I remember the dog fair with 1,000 people attending. I remember families showing up at a distance, and moving closer to Jesus over years. I remember so many men and women who have been touched by the Lord through our time together, and with tears in their eyes saying, “Thank you for starting North Village Church.”
Each story is fuel to the soul saying, “Keep going.” We have no idea what the Lord might be doing. The easiest thing to do is give into those doubts, shut down in our marriage, walk out on the local church, turn from the Holy Spirit, but the beautiful, secret power in the gospel is that we have no idea what transformation might be around the corner when we endure.