We move on in I Thessalonians to Chapter 3 and verse 6 – Having read something of the concern and compassion in the heart of paul for these new disciples of Jesus, now we are reading of the consolations of the Gospel and compensations and rewards and fruit. God knows when we need encouragement – and in these days virtually everyone needs encouraging – and perhaps something deeper.
Paul had been awaiting news of these disciples in Thessalonica and when the news came the news was like the gospel message itself – it was good news.
Verse 7 – Hardship that brings forth fruit is bearable. The news ministered to Paul and what he heard did him good.
Verse 8 – He could go on knowing that they were spiritually well. Their ability to stand fast proved something to Paul and certainly touched his heart.
Was this a sort of early “test case”? He needed to know how his converts were doing – and that his ministry had lasting and permanent affects.
Faithfulness counts for much. This mighty apostle is looking to ordinary believers for encouragement – almost to keep him going on maintaining the spiritual and physical momentum!
Would our present spiritual state be a source of joy to those who first led us to Christ and nurtured us at the beginning?
Because of your faithfulness to Jesus as a result of our preaching and teaching, we can now go on and continue. Never underestimate your value to those around us.
Verse 9 – This leads him to praise and thanksgiving. This leads him to joyful praise and to prayer and thanksgiving. These are quite emotional words.
Verse 10 – Faithfulness and progress and endurance must not be confused with completeness. There has to be growth and stability, but they were lacking in something. What was lacking? Where were they incomplete? Paul wants to be able to lead them on to richer experiences and fuller service. The word used for what is lacking is the word that a fisherman uses when there is a hole in the net. It is lacking completeness and serious completeness!
This is the first hint that something is lacking – and he is courageous enough to deal with it. That is seldom easy – when you see someone and there is something missing – that is when we have to be circumspect as well as bold.
“I want to fill the holes in your faith!” That is what he is saying. I want to mend the gaps.
Verse 11 – He still wants to see them. We read in the letter to Corinth that he had the care of all the churches (2 Corinthians 11 verse 28).
Verse 12 – Paul prays two things for these Christians – that their love for each other would increase and overflow – just as ours does for you.
He prays for their holiness in the presence of God. They needed extra and further strength for all that, and this is again linked with the coming again of Jesus.
Love will build up their hearts – and this is how we can become blameless – by the way we love one another and by the way we treat one another. Had there been a lacking in that area in Thessalonica?
Did they have a faulty or wrong view of the coming again of Jesus? When we read the whole letter it appears that they did, and that needed correcting.
He deals with this again in Chapter 4.
All this in these verses is linked with the coming into the presence of God.
No wonder he needed to send Timothy to find out how they were.
Paul is speaking here about producing a whole personality – loving – warm – powerful – understanding – gentle like a mother – firm like a father.
There is only one place where that job can be done – and that is in Christ!
“Lord God Almighty – teach us through these verses of Scripture – when we see someone lacking – when we see something missing in a disciple’s life or character – enable us to minister boldly but graciously – firmly but lovingly. Where there are holes in people’s faith – use us to mend the gaps – in Jesus name we pray. Amen”
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