Keep the Door Open
For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place. Your faith toward God has gone out, so that we do not need to say anything.
1 Thessalonians 1:8
T. W. Wilson was Billy Graham's lifelong friend, and trusted companion. Wherever Billy went he went, and whatever Billy needed, he sought to supply. Like Jonathan toward King David, T. W. Wilson was happy to spend the balance of his life serving next to His friend (1 Sam 23:17). He was a master at playing the second fiddle. Interestingly, his service extended to always being first through a door. Friends, and team members were quick to notice that Dr. Graham never went through the door first. It was always T. W. first, and Billy second. In fact, the two would often have a bit of fun with this in that T. W. would invariably say, "After you, Billy." And he would say, "Oh, no after you." The reason that T. W. went through the door first was that he was the Graham Organization's advance man. It was his job to make sure that there was no trouble on the other side of the door, and that things were properly prepared for their arrival. T. W. Wilson literally, and figuratively opened doors for Billy Graham. T. W. Wilson made it his job to make Billy Graham's job easier.
In his first letter to the Thessalonians, Paul acknowledges the service the church at Thessalonica had rendered in the cause of the gospel (1 Thess. 1:6-9). Just like T. W. Wilson for Billy Graham, they had opened doors, and kept doors open for Paul in the work of evangelism. In the first place, Paul acknowledges that the echo of their gospel witness had traveled far. The Greek word for "sound forth" is a word from which we get our English word echo (1 Thess. 1:8). As used here, the word indicates the spreading out of the gospel from a central point in all directions. The lives, and lips of the Thessalonians were an amplification of the gospel. The story of their faith had circulated widely. It had echoed throughout Greece, both north (Macedonia), and south (Achaia). All over the country the thunderclap of their evangelical witness reverberated among the hills, and valleys of Greece.
In the second place, Paul acknowledges the clear, compelling, and contagious nature of their witness (1 Thess. 1:8-9). As Christians, they had made it easier for others to believe in God, and in doing so they had made Paul's job of preaching and teaching the gospel much easier. They had won a hearing for the gospel. They were opening doors for Paul. Wherever the apostle went, people were talking about the faith of the Thessalonians, and Paul simply joined the conversation. In Paul's report here in chapter one he pays tribute to the fact that the Thessalonians had made the missionaries' visit easier, and effective. People listened to the Thessalonians, and people listened to the missionaries because of them. They had rendered a preparatory service to the visiting evangelists. Like T. W. Wilson for Billy Graham, they had opened doors, and kept doors open for Paul in reaching the region for Christ.
Are we opening doors for the gospel by our words, and conduct? Are we rendering a preparatory service for a servant of Christ to come in contact with our friends and family? Are we making it easier for someone else to be an effective witness for Christ?
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