The Value of Good News

October 16, 2022 Preacher: Luis A. Cardenas Series: First Thessalonians

Topic: English Passage: 1 Thessalonians 3:6-10

If you watch the news or read the major headlines, you will likely agree that there are plenty of bad things going on in the world right now, both in our own country and around the world.

There is corruption. There is war. There is financial hardship. There is persecution. There is deception and scandal. There is sickness and death. And there is perversion and immorality. Why do those kinds of things dominate what we see on the news and in the headlines?

Well, part of the reason we see those things in the headlines is because they exist. They are actually happening, even if we are getting a biased perspective.

But another reason we see those stories is because websites and TV programs exists for profit. And one of the way main ways these companies make money is through advertising, whether that is through website ads or commercials. The amount of money they make from those ads depends on how many people are watching. The higher the ratings, the more people that are watching, the more money they make.

And it didn’t take news media very long to figure out that bad news sells. Bad news makes money. In the musical Newsies, the kids who sold newspapers sang, “We need a good assassination! We need an earthquake or a war!” There’s an old saying in the media that says, “If it bleeds, it leads.”

Why is that? People think it’s because even though we may be drawn to funny or emotional content, fear and worry has a much more profound effect. We want to know what happened, so we can be better prepared, and so we can share it with others.

When I worked as a waiter, our manger told us that statistically, if someone has a good experience at a restaurant, they will likely tell one other person. But if someone has a bad experience at a restaurant, they will tell 10 other people. I’m not sure where that statistic came from, but it makes some sense.

There is an attraction to bad news and outrage. We may not like knowing how bad things are, but we don’t want to miss out on what could be very important information, either for our survival or for good conversation.

With all the bad news that surrounds us, we can lose the ability to seek, process, and appreciate good news. But the father of Proverbs gives us a helpful reminder. Proverbs 15:30 says this—The light of the eyes rejoices the heart, and good news refreshes the bones.

Proverbs 25:25 has this—Like cold water to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country.

Those are great images pointing to how refreshing and invigorating good news is. And that’s exactly the feeling the Apostle Paul had when Timothy came back to him.

Last week, we talked about what had happened. Paul had painfully decided to split up his team again, and Timothy was sent to Thessalonica to find out how the church was doing. Paul knew they were facing severe persecution, and with that difficulty came the temptation to walk away from the faith. So, Timothy went to investigate the church, to exhort them, and to protect them.

Timothy left Paul from Athens, and the journey back to Thessalonica would have been about 275 miles. Then, coming home was another 275 miles. Some of that may have been by boat; we’re not sure. But regardless of his method of travel, his return to Paul brought a huge relief.

Let’s look back at verse 6 to see how Paul describes Timothy’s report. First Thessalonians 3:6—But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and has brought us the good news of your faith and love and reported that you always remember us kindly and long to see us, as we long to see you…

We’ll stop right there just to point out the content of Timothy’s report. Paul says he brought good news. Literally, the word there is to evangelize. It’s a word we usually use for preaching the gospel, but the basic idea is the proclamation of good news.

What was the good news? This church had continued in faith and in love for one another. And rather than listen to the accusations of false teachers, they continued to have an affection for Paul and his team. The end of verse 6 says they remembered them kindly and longed to see them. There was a mutual love.

So, how did Paul respond to the news? What effect did it have on him? As we look a little more closely at it in verse 7-10, we are going to be reminded about how we should be responding to good news and why we should be seeking it out.

But the good news we’re talking about it is not generic good news; it is the good news about your brothers and sisters in the faith.

As we’ve been going through this letter, we have repeatedly seen the affection in it, and it has been a wonderful example and encouragement to us to work to develop the same kinds of relationships in our own church life.

When you get time to sit down and talk with one another, as we will have today at the picnic, we aren’t just doing generic updates, we can also be asking about their spiritual life. And in asking about their spiritual life, we don’t only have to focus on the negative. We can ask how they’ve seen God working in their life. We can ask how they’ve seen God answer prayer. We can ask how they’ve seen God sustain their faith and their love.

And why is that kind of news so important to Christian community? Let me give you 5 reasons to pursue good news from your brothers and sisters in the faith.

Number one is because good news produces comfort. Good news brings comfort. Look at verse 7—for this reason, brothers, in all our distress and affliction we have been comforted about you through your faith.

You can underline that word “comfort” if you want to. That was Paul’s response. Even though Paul was still experiencing persecution and hardship, hearing good news about his brothers and sisters brought him comfort.

This is an expression of Paul’s humility and love. When life is bad for you and good for someone else, that can bring a temptation of jealousy. But when you are more interested in the wellbeing of others than your own, you can find comfort in knowing they are doing well.

This response is also an indication of Paul’s priorities. He isn’t comforted because the affliction of the Thessalonians went away. He is comforted that they have continued in the faith. That’s so important. He was comforted because of their faith.

Moms and Dads, we need to pay attention here. We cannot let our desire for temporal blessings in our kids lives surpass our desire for spiritual blessings. Would you rather have a selfish child who boasts about winning first place, or a humble, gracious child who lost the tournament, or didn’t get into the school they were hoping for? That’s a test of our priorities.

The Apostle John said this in his epistle to his brother Gaius: For I rejoiced greatly when the brothers came and testified to your truth, as indeed you are walking in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.

That’s from 3 John, verses 3 and 4. That’s the heart of a spiritual father. That’s real comfort. It doesn’t come from a meal. It doesn’t come from the luxuries of life. It comes from hearing about the spiritual progress of your brothers and sisters.

So, ask each other about that. Ask: How have you grown in your faith in the past year? What temptations are you gaining ground over? And praise God for what He’s doing, and experience the comfort of knowing that He has been faithful to watch over His own.

Let’s move on to a second reason to pursue spiritual good news. The first is comfort. The second is energy. Good news about your brothers and sisters in the faith gives you energy. Look at verse 8. Paul continues—For now we live, if you are standing fast in the Lord.

Before Timothy came back with an update, Paul was in anguish. His heart was aching for the Thessalonians. And in that kind of condition, it’s not easy to keep moving forward.

But when he heard the good news about the Thessalonians, it gave him life. It brought relief, and it energized him. If you want, you can underline that phrase “now we live.”

Our culture is filled with products designed to energize you. You may not have heard this because of some other things that were going on at the time, but about a year ago, Hostess released a new product called “Boost Jumbo Donettes.” It’s a caffeinated donut, and the label says there’s as much caffeine in there as a cup of coffee. You can also choose between chocolate mocha or caramel macchiato.

I read one online review for the chocolate variety, and the guy said this: “I make it a habit to check out the aroma of food first. Let me put it this way: Think ‘chocolate-scented Lysol bathroom cleaner.' I wish that were hyperbole.” And needless to say, the review didn’t go so well.

Why does this product exist? It’s because people are looking for ways to get a boost. And if we can’t find a boost in our normal life, then we have to get one chemically.

Well, you don’t need to buy a Hostess Boost Jumbo Donette. You can get a spiritual boost by looking for the good news in your brothers and sisters. It will energize you in your own faith as you seek to honor Christ in your ministry.

The good news Paul heard produced comfort and energy. Next on the list, we have thanksgiving. Good news produces thanksgiving.

This one shouldn’t be a surprise. It’s the same thing Paul said in the opening verses of the letter. He thanked God that they were spiritually thriving, even if they were facing some serious difficulties.

Thanksgiving comes from recognizing that God is the One bringing these blessings. He’s behind it all, and He deserves the glory.

Connected to thanksgiving, we have number 4 on our list, and that is joy. Good new brings joy.

And we can see both thanksgiving and joy in verse 9, which is the beginning of a rhetorical question expressing his emotion. You can underline those words if you like. Paul says—For what thanksgiving can we return to God for you, for all the joy that we feel for your sake before our God…?

Does that sound like a man who is tired of his life? Does that sound like a man who is overcome by his problems? No. Paul was a man of thanksgiving and joy, even in the difficulties he faced. And part of the reason for his joy was the meaningful relationships he had developed and invested in for the glory of Christ. His heart was linked to the spiritual progress of his brothers and sisters, and so is ours.

God didn’t intend for you to be bored with life or bitter or overcome with your problems. He intended our hearts to be intertwined for His glory. And though that would bring heartache at times, it would also bring comfort and energy and thanksgiving and joy. That’s God’s design.

There’s one final product of hearing good news about a brother or sister in the faith, and that is zeal. The good news will help produce zeal. It doesn’t just give you energy, it gives you a purpose and a goal.

Verse 10 ends Paul’s rhetorical question, and it tells us another of his responses. Look at it with me. Here’s what came along with Paul’s thanksgiving and joy.

Verse 10—We pray most earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith.

Paul is overjoyed at the update, but he’s also reminded that the progress he has heard about is not finished. Until the day that we see Jesus Christ for ourselves, we are supposed to be working for the sanctification of others, and others should be working in our own lives.

This would be like the coach praising his team for winning the first game of the season. It’s exciting. There’s an energy there, but the journey isn’t done. There’s still more to do.

Paul is not overwhelmed at what’s left. He is energized for it. So, he prays that he will be able one day to meet the Thessalonians face to face.

There’s obviously some sentimentality there, but don’t miss his purpose statement. Why does he want to go to Thessalonica? It’s not just to give hugs and kisses. It is to supply what is lacking in [their] faith.

He wants to keep working for their spiritual maturity. He wants to keep exhorting them and preparing them for what’s ahead. That’s zeal. That’s purpose.

Receive the joy but recognize that the work isn’t over yet. There’s still more to do for the glory of Jesus Christ.

Like I already said, God did not intend for you and me to go through life bored or overwhelmed by problems. Problems will come. Difficulties will arise, but even in them, God wants us to have comfort and energy and thanksgiving and joy and zeal.

That’s an amazing list of attributes. And we can move in that direction if we know the good news of the gospel, and if we step into one another’s lives to find out the good news of what God has been doing.

Thank God, we’ll have a chance to do that, as we enjoy a nice day in the park with out family and friends.

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