We’ve all heard the saying, “Actions speak louder than words.” There are many such sayings in our history. The great preacher of the 4th Century said, “Men will not attend to what we say, but examine into what we do; and will say, ‘First obey your own words, and then exhort others.’ This is a great battle. This is the unanswerable demonstration, which is made by our acts.” Ben Franklin said, “Well done is better than well-said.” An old Spanish proverb says, “Deeds, and not fine speeches, are proof of love.”[1] Jesus gave us this idea also. He said in Matthew 7:16, “By their fruit, you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles?” In 1 Thessalonians 1:8, Paul encourages the suffering Thessalonians by telling them that their example speaks for itself. They have good fruit, and everyone sees it. He says, “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.” The Thessalonians were very vocal about their faith and did not hesitate to share it with those in and around their area. The message spread far and wide, but their actions spoke louder than words.

Words are cheap, by the way. We get to know people through their actions, not just their words. Communication is very important, especially in our age of computers and the Internet. However, it is increasingly easy to conceal one’s true intent online. Many predators have deceived people into investing in non-existing funds. Young girls have become prey to older men masquerading as younger men online to take advantage of them. It’s easy to pretend to be something you are not. During the early persecution of the church by the government, many professing believers would offer incense to Caesar to save their lives or the lives of loved ones. Some would buy certificates saying that they had offered sacrifices even though they hadn’t. But many others went to the stake, refusing to disown Christ. They were eaten by wild beasts, burned alive, and beheaded, as well as other violent tortures to recant their profession of faith. Tertullian, a second-century believer, told the authorities, “The more you destroy us, the more we become. The blood of the saints is the seed of the church.”

When Paul and his disciples arrived at Thessalonica, he was received with great enthusiasm by some Jews and some Gentiles. When Paul proclaimed the good news at the Synagogue, many would come to hear it, and many responded. But the Jews who rejected the message raised up a riot and ran Paul out of town. The believers at Thessalonica rescued Paul from the mob and helped him escape to Berea. The believers at Thessalonica were left to face the persecution on their own. They lived up to the challenge. They professed their faith in Jesus during Paul’s ministry and never gave way to the pressure of both Jews and Gentiles to recant their faith. Thankfully, we don’t face violence against us in America for faith in Jesus except for isolated incidents. Yet there are places around the world where persecution of believers is still very severe. Even though we’re not physically threatened with execution, we still see the disapproval on people’s faces when we profess faith in Jesus. Some are passed over for promotion, denied a pay raise, or excluded from neighborhood gatherings because of their faith. There are numerous other ways the professing believers feel the disapproval of a humanistic society. The Thessalonians received praise from Paul and the other believers for not shrinking back from their faith in the face of their persecution. The Thessalonians were willing to put their money where their mouth is. We should be willing also.

[1] Water, Mark. 2000. The New Encyclopedia of Christian Quotations. Alresford, Hampshire: John Hunt Publishers Ltd.