We have just started the book of 1 Thessalonians at Calvary Chapel on Sundays. When it comes to the church at Thessalonica, it seemed to be the only church that Paul wrote a letter to whom he didn't rebuke, but rather the contrary. He commended them, a lot. "We give thanks to God always for you, constantly..." (1:2), "And we thank God constantly..." (2:13), "...we have been comforted about you through your faith." (3:7) Probably the biggest commendation that stood out to me was in the first chapter in verse 6-9
"And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all believers in Macedonia and 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."
It seems the reputation of these believers had preceded them, and the message of the Gospel had already reached other cities that Paul was going to. People everywhere heard the Gospel, and knew the people of Thessalonica to be pretty righteous dudes (pun intended). This got me to thinking what kind of reputation precedes me? What do people say about me behind my back to others who have not met me? Scary thought.
In verse 7, the word "example" is the greek word τύπος (too-pos), which means to 'stamp or scar'. It is a derivation of the word τύπτω (toop-tō), which is a verb which means "to strike or blow repeatedly", usually with hand or instrument. Like a person who leaves scars on someone by striking them repeatedly, these Thessalonians were literally active in their faith in such a way that they were repeatedly leaving lasting impressions all over the region. Except the only scars the people were receiving were the scars of Christ, sealing them with the stamp of salvation.
Here's the thing, people talk. So how do you think they talk about you when you're not around? What do you think the first thing is that comes to people's minds when they think of you? Is it that you're a gossip? A grumpy gill (me)? A 'party animal'? A bookworm? A hypocrite? A jokester? Note, not all these things are bad, but the first thing that should come to people's minds when they think about you is how much you love Christ, it shouldn't be an afterthought. Also note, people have talked about you, they've talked about me. What they've said you can only speculate... (or you could just ask what people say about you behind your back, but really who wants to know that) But if we evaluate ourselves honestly, we can come to a pretty honest conclusion to what people probably say about us behind our backs, and if it's not highlighing Christ, it's time to change that. Remember, you're not fooling anyone, nor God. Practice what you preach yes, but it should also be that you preach what you already practice.