1 Thessalonians 1:7-10
So that you were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia.…
The apostle employs a word never used anywhere else in the New Testament to describe the conspicuous and widespread nature of this testimony of theirs. He says, "The Word of the Lord sounded out" from them. That phrase is one most naturally employed to describe the blast of a trumpet. So clear and ringing, so loud, penetrating, melodious, rousing, and full was their proclamation, by the silent eloquence of their lives, of the gospel which impelled and enabled them to lead such lives. A grand ideal of a community of believers!
I. This metaphor suggests THE GREAT PURPOSE OF THE CHURCH. It is God's trumpet. His means of making His voice heard through all the uproar of the world. As the captain upon the deck in the gale will use his speaking trumpet, so God's voice needs your voice. The gospel needs to be passed through human lips in order that it may reach deaf ears. The Church is worse than "sounding brass," it is as silent brass and an untinkling cymbal, unless the individuals that belong to it recognize God's meaning in malting them His children, and do their best to fulfil it. "Ye are My witnesses," saith the Lord. You are put into the witness box, see that you speak out when you are there.
II. Another point that this figure may suggest is THE SORT OF SOUND THAT SHOULD COME FROM THE TRUMPET.
1. A trumpet note is, first of all, clear. There should be no hesitation in our witness; nothing uncertain in the sound that we give.
2. The note should be penetrating. There is no instrument, I suppose, that carries further than the ringing clarion that is often heard on the field of battle, above all the strife. And so this little church at Thessalonica, a mere handful of people, just converted, in the very centre of a strong, compact, organized, self-confident, supercilious heathenism, insisted upon being heard, and got itself made audible, simply by the purity and the consistency of the lives of its members. A clear voice will fling words to a distance that a thick, mumbling one never can attain. One note will travel much farther than another. Do you see to it that your notes are of the penetrating sort.
3. And then, again, the note should be a musical one. There is nothing to be done for God by harshness; nothing to be done by discords and jangling; nothing to be done by scolding and rebuke. The ordered sequence of melodious sound will travel a great deal further than unmusical, plain speech. You can hear a song at a distance at which a saying would be inaudible. Which thing is an allegory, and this is its lesson. Music goes further than discord; and the witness that a Christian man bears will travel in direct proportion as it is harmonious and gracious and gentle and beautiful.
4. And then, again, the note should be rousing. You do not play on a trumpet when you want to send people to sleep; dulcimers and the like are the things for that purpose. The trumpet means strung up intensity, means a call to arms, or to rejoicing; means, at any rate, vigour, and is intended to rouse. Let your witness have for its inmost signification, "Awake! thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light."
III. Then, still further, take another thought that may be suggested from this metaphor, THE SILENCE OF THE LOUDEST NOTE. If you look at the context, you will see that all the ways in which the Word of the Lord is represented as sounding out from the Thessalonian Church were deeds, not words. The context supplies a number of them. Such as the following are specified in it: their work; their toil, which is more than work; their patience; their assurance; their reception of the Word, in much affliction with joy in the Holy Ghost; their faith to Godward; their turning to God from idols, to serve and to wait. That is all. So far as the context goes there might not have been a man amongst them that ever opened His mouth for Jesus Christ. We know not, of course, how far they were a congregation of silent witnesses, but this we know, that what Paul meant when he said, "The whole world is ringing with the voice of the Word of God sounding from you," was not their going up and down the world shouting about their Christianity, but their quiet living like Jesus Christ. That is a louder voice than any other. I do not mean to say that Christian men and women are at liberty to lock their lips from verbal proclamation of the Saviour they have found, but I do mean to say that if there was less talk and more living the witness of God's Church would be louder and not lower; "and men would take knowledge of us, that we had been with Jesus"; and of Jesus, that He had made us like Himself.
IV. And so, lastly, let me draw one other thought from this metaphor, which I hope you will not think fanciful playing with a figure; and THAT IS THE BREATH THAT MAKES THE MUSIC. If the Church is the trumpet, who blows it? God! It is by His Divine Spirit dwelling within us and breathing through us that the harsh discords of our natural lives become changed into melody of praise and the music of witness for Him. Keep near Christ, live in communion with God, let Him breathe through you, and when His Spirit passes through your spirits their silence will become harmonious speech; and from you "will sound out the Word of the Lord."
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia.