1 Thessalonians 3
Paul mentioned at the end of chapter 2 that Satan had hindered him from returning to Thessalonica. However, that did not mean that Paul had forgotten the Thessalonians. Since he couldn’t go, he sent Timothy.
“Therefore when we could bear it no longer, we were willing to be left behind at Athens alone, and we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s coworker in the gospel of Christ, to establish and exhort you in your faith, that no one be moved by these afflictions. For you yourselves know that we are destined for this.” 1 Thessalonians 3:1-3
To me I picture here Paul being overcome with worry over the Thessalonians because of his use of the language of “we could bear it no longer”. Have you ever been so sick with worry over another individual you simply did not think you could bear it anymore. Paul had warned the Thessalonians that they would come under affliction. Affliction and trouble is something that we all will have in this life in one way or another. Paul knew that the Thessalonians were young in their faith and he was concerned that they would allow the afflictions and persecution to sway their faith. Some translations say “shaken”. This is one reason that we should study and build our faith when things are going well for us and the worries are not so deep so that when the afflictions and persecutions come we will not be shaken. Paul was concerned about them so he sent Timothy to check them, to check their faith and if need to have Timothy minister to them and to encourage them in their faith.
Timothy returns with a good report.
“But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and has brought us the good news of your faith and love and reported that you always remember us kindly and long to see us, as we long to see you- for this reason, brothers, in all our distress and affliction we have been comforted about you through your faith.” 1 Thessalonians 3:6-7
Paul was overjoyed by the good report Timothy brought back. The Thessalonians were standing strong in their faith and were standing strong in what they knew to be true about Paul. Some of the persecution that they would have been receiving was persecuting Paul for having left them. Even though it appears the nonbelievers in Thessalonica ran Paul out of town, they were possibly using that against him and the new believers. Paul had been in great distress over the Thessalonians but Timothy’s good news of them brought joy to him.
“For what thanksgiving can we return to God for you, for all the joy that we feel for your sake before our God,” 1 Thessalonians 3:9
Paul was just grateful and being grateful for them brought him joy. Have you ever practiced just being grateful? I say practice because sometimes it is a practice that we have to do. I know I do. At times, I will let the “afflictions” and “persecutions” get me so down I have to consciously decide to be grateful. I don’t think Paul was having to do this consciously. He was genuinely grateful to God for them, and that brought him joy!
Paul is still praying to go to see the Thessalonians and in the process he is praying for their love for each other to grow.
“Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you, and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.” 1 Thessalonians 3:11-13
No matter how much love you have for each other, for the people in your family or your church there is always room for your love to grow. That is the second commandment, being only second to loving God. As love grows, our hearts are established in holiness.
Oh Lord, may our love for each other grow and abound so that our hearts will be established in you!
Please pray for our President and government leaders.