God in heaven, I am grateful for your Word, for the freedom that is mine to read it, and for your Holy Spirit, who speaks to my mind and heart through it.
Read 1 THESSALONIANS 3
3 So when we could stand it no longer, we thought it best to be left by ourselves in Athens. 2 We sent Timothy, who is our brother and co-worker in God’s service in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith, 3 so that no one would be unsettled by these trials. For you know quite well that we are destined for them. 4 In fact, when we were with you, we kept telling you that we would be persecuted. And it turned out that way, as you well know. 5 For this reason, when I could stand it no longer, I sent to find out about your faith. I was afraid that in some way the tempter had tempted you and that our labors might have been in vain.
Timothy’s Encouraging Report
6 But Timothy has just now come to us from you and has brought good news about your faith and love. He has told us that you always have pleasant memories of us and that you long to see us, just as we also long to see you. 7 Therefore, brothers and sisters, in all our distress and persecution we were encouraged about you because of your faith. 8 For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord. 9 How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you? 10 Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you again and supply what is lacking in your faith.
11 Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus clear the way for us to come to you. 12 May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. 13 May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
May we ‘live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us.’1
Many of us remember the sadness of being unable to see loved ones during the Covid pandemic. It was particularly difficult when we knew they were alone, or sick, and we felt helpless to support them. Paul is equally frustrated at being unable to visit the Thessalonians. Having heard about the persecution they are suffering, he is deeply concerned to know whether their newborn faith is surviving. He needn’t have worried— Timothy reports that their faith and love are standing up well (v. 6).
What are our strategies for supporting one another in the faith, particularly when we can’t be with one another all the time? Paul takes several steps to help the Thessalonians. Before leaving, he made sure that they were prepared to suffer persecution (vv. 3, 4). Do we sometimes paint an unrealistically rosy picture of the Christian life to potential or new converts? If so, their faith may not withstand the challenges that inevitably come. Then, once he is absent from the Thessalonians, Paul sends Timothy to ‘strengthen and encourage’ them in their faith (v. 2)—and, of course, he writes this letter, which is full of love and encouragement. How can we creatively communicate with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ when we’re apart from them, whether they are housebound people in our local communities or other Christians throughout the world?
Joyfully, Paul’s relationship with the Thessalonians is far from one- sided. Just as he seeks to build them up, so he himself is greatly encouraged by their faith, in the midst of his own afflictions (v. 7). Knowing that they are ‘standing firm in the Lord’ brings him life and joy (vv. 8, 9): he overflows with love for them (v. 12). As we seek to support others in the Lord, may we, too, find our faith and joy refreshed.
Is there someone you feel led to encourage in the faith today?
Jesus, thank you for the gospel that offers healing and hope—for today, tomorrow, and forever. Make me sensitive to those who need to hear its words of mercy, grace, and power; help me to offer those words.
Last Updated on February 7, 2024 by kingstar