3 We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. 4 For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5 because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power,with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. 6 You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. — 1 Thess. 1:3-6 NIV
God has chosen each of us and has a plan for each of us. We are sanctified, set apart, for a particular purpose. Our faith produces works that are a part of that process. We show our love for Christ by laboring and helping others. We are able to endure because of the hope we have in us, the hope that we have because God has poured His love into us. When the Gospel is preached, it goes forth with power to accomplish whatever purpose God has intended for it. The power is the Holy Spirit which can cut us to the bone and convict us of our need for redemption. This is the message Paul and his companions preached among the Thessalonians and in all the other places they traveled. They were successful, not because of their powers of persuasion, but because they were completely obedient to the leadership of the Holy Spirit. It is the same message that each of us should be preaching every day with our lifestyle and as St Francis of Assisi encouraged us to do: “Preach the Gospel at all times and if necessary use words.” We should follow the example of Paul and live lifestyles that are worthy of imitation, just as we have become imitators of Christ. Then those who are suffering will receive the message with great joy. Their joy will be observed by others who will want to know the source of such great joy. The kind of joy that endures in the midst of suffering and persecution, the kind of joy that is caught, not taught.