Proverbs 22 & 1 Thessalonians 1

Proverbs 22

    A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches,
        and favor is better than silver or gold.
    The rich and the poor meet together;
        the LORD is the maker of them all.
    The prudent sees danger and hides himself,
        but the simple go on and suffer for it.
    The reward for humility and fear of the LORD
        is riches and honor and life.
    Thorns and snares are in the way of the crooked;
        whoever guards his soul will keep far from them.
    Train up a child in the way he should go;
        even when he is old he will not depart from it.
    The rich rules over the poor,
        and the borrower is the slave of the lender.
    Whoever sows injustice will reap calamity,
        and the rod of his fury will fail.
    Whoever has a bountiful eye will be blessed,
        for he shares his bread with the poor.
    Drive out a scoffer, and strife will go out,
        and quarreling and abuse will cease.
    He who loves purity of heart,
        and whose speech is gracious, will have the king as his friend.
    The eyes of the LORD keep watch over knowledge,
        but he overthrows the words of the traitor.
    The sluggard says, “There is a lion outside!
        I shall be killed in the streets!”
    The mouth of forbidden women is a deep pit;
        he with whom the LORD is angry will fall into it.
    Folly is bound up in the heart of a child,
        but the rod of discipline drives it far from him.
    Whoever oppresses the poor to increase his own wealth,
        or gives to the rich, will only come to poverty.
        Incline your ear, and hear the words of the wise,
        and apply your heart to my knowledge,
    for it will be pleasant if you keep them within you,
        if all of them are ready on your lips.
    That your trust may be in the LORD,
        I have made them known to you today, even to you.
    Have I not written for you thirty sayings
        of counsel and knowledge,
    to make you know what is right and true,
        that you may give a true answer to those who sent you?
    Do not rob the poor, because he is poor,
        or crush the afflicted at the gate,
    for the LORD will plead their cause
        and rob of life those who rob them.
    Make no friendship with a man given to anger,
        nor go with a wrathful man,
    lest you learn his ways
        and entangle yourself in a snare.
    Be not one of those who give pledges,
        who put up security for debts.
    If you have nothing with which to pay,
        why should your bed be taken from under you?
    Do not move the ancient landmark
        that your fathers have set.
    Do you see a man skillful in his work?
        He will stand before kings;
        he will not stand before obscure men.

(Proverbs 22 ESV)

1 Thessalonians 1

    Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy,

    To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:

    Grace to you and peace.

    We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything. For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.

(1 Thessalonians 1 ESV)

1 Thessalonians 1: The apostle Paul describes the great assurance that he has concerning the authenticity of the Thessalonian Christians' faith. Perhaps, there is no greater feeling for a servant of our Lord than to be able to celebrate the sincere faith and subsequent obedience of those he has spent his time reaching out to with the hope of the gospel. For Paul, his assurance of their authenticity rests in the powerful authority with which the gospel was preached to them and the powerful response to that preaching that led the Thessalonian believers to become people just like Paul and his fellow missionaries - even to the point of being joyful despite the affliction that came with becoming a Christian. 

How can you be assured that your faith in Christ is sincere and authentic? How do we know when the gospel has been preached with more than just a well crafted message but with real power and the presence of the Holy Spirit and with true transformative conviction?

We can have assurance in our authenticity and in the gospel's power when we find ourselves joyful in Christ even when our allegiance to Him has become costly. True Christian joy transcends our circumstances and suffering in this life. When our hope in another life with our resurrected Redeemer becomes the central focus of our heart, the things we suffer in this life lose their power to crush us into despair. And when the world sees authentic Christians willing to suffer for their allegiance to Christ as King, faith in Him begins to go forth everywhere, so that words are almost not even needed.