Chapter 3: 6-13
“But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and brought us good news of your faith and love, and that you always have good remembrance of us, greatly desiring to see us, as we also to see you— 7 therefore, brethren, in all our affliction and distress we were comforted concerning you by your faith. 8 For now, we live, if you stand fast in the Lord.
9 For what thanks can we render to God for you, for all the joy with which we rejoice for your sake before our God, 10 night and day praying exceedingly that we may see your face and perfect what is lacking in your faith? 11 Now may our God and Father Himself, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way to you. 12 And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you, 13 so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.“
Once again, thanks for your emails and responses. We continue to live in perilous times that will challenge us as we work to serve the Lord. There are times coming that will shake our faith and shake our person if at all possible. There will be times when we will have doubts and times when we will live in faith. There will be times when we will wonder what is happening and maybe even ask, ‘Where is God?’ We will not be the first generation nor the last if the Lord tarries His return. As a pastor, it is my desire to see the people I try to teach and mentor become strong in the Lord, yes, even way stronger than I. Paul is writing here to encourage them with the good report that he had received from Timothy. This is the kind of report that warms a minister’s heart and makes a lot of hard times worth it.
- A good remembrance, verse 6
How are you and I remembered as ministers of the Lord? Do we leave a good taste in the lives of the people we serve? Sometimes we can forget that we are serving the Lord’s people, and they are not ours. We are to be good under-shepherds and treat these church people and the others that come our way as precious and important to the Lord; they are. Paul was excited that the people in Thessalonica had a good remembrance of him and the ministry work he did there. Once again, recall that Paul was only there for a few weeks or, at best, a few months, according to what we see in the scriptures. These loving remembrances made it easier for Paul to endure the hardships that he was going through.
Yet, in this short time and under very hard circumstances, the apostle was able to leave a good and godly impression that stuck with the people. They missed the apostle and longed to see him. I once heard someone say there are some people that bring joy when they arrive and, sadly, others when they leave. I pray that we are all in the former category. Paul was in the former with the people in Thessalonica. I hope that the people I pastor and the people I serve at work have a good impression of me, and more that they have a good impression of the Lord.
What remembrance do you leave with the people that you work with, with your family, and with your church people? Be filled with grace, truth, kindness, mercy, and love, and you will leave a good and loving impression. People will have good remembrance of you and of the Lord. Let your light shine before men.
- A Constant Prayer for you, verse 7-10
Paul is thrilled that these young Christians are standing fast, standing strong for the Lord. This is probably even more encouraging to the apostle than the fact that they remember him fondly. He is thrilled that they are standing for the truth. This is a great testimony that spiritual maturity does not take years and years. Rather it takes a total surrender to the Lord. It is also a reminder that spiritual maturity had to be sped up in perilous times. One does not have the luxury of sitting on the fence and stalling. Troubled times force one to have to put off pretenses and either be for or against the Lord.
These Thessalonians had to grow up quickly, and their growth is shown in their stand for the truth in spite of the costs that would be incurred. They were prepared to lose life and liberty for the truth. We are faced with similar times right now. We may not have the loss of life as yet, but we are surely having our freedoms challenged. The great apostle tells us that he is constantly praying for these folks in Thessalonica. They are standing fast, and Paul is in constant prayer for them. These are the things of maturity. One stands, and those that are not there pray.
Lately, the Lord has opened a door for our churches here to help pray for and give to a church ministry in Pakistan. These dear folks love the Lord and stand for the truth. We at times send money, but what we do every day and every service is to pray for them. Prayer will do more than money, and we are blessed that they pray for us. I know people who are true prayer warriors; they are always asking how they can pray for me and others, and I have no doubt that they pray for me often.
The idea of standing fast is that of a military term that is given as a command not to give in or give up on a mission. This is a command often given to guards or centuries to ‘stand fast’ at a post and not to surrender any territory. We are to stand fast on the truth; we are not to give ground at all, and we are to guard the truth of the Gospel – if need be, with our lives. It is that precious. Sadly, there has been a lot of watering down of the gospel by a lot of people. This is very dangerous; the pure Gospel of Jesus is all we have to give the world to save them from an eternity in Hell. It is precious, so precious that Jesus died for the Gospel, just about every apostle was martyred for the Gospel, and in the last 2,000 years, millions have died standing for the Gospel. It is precious; we need to stand fast for it.
- An increase in our Love verses 11-13
For many in the world, hard times tend to make them more cynical and jaded when it comes to love, but for the child of God who is growing, standing for the faith and shielded in prayer, the natural fruit of that is that we grow in love for our Lord, for each other and for people of the world.
Love is a supernatural gift from God through the Holy Spirit (read 1 Corinthians 13:13). This is the kind of love that Jesus demonstrated to us and for us on the cross. As we mature in Jesus, we should hate sin more, like Lot in Sodom; the Bible tells us that in 2 Peter 2: 6-9. But we should love the people, even the ones who are hurting us, and we should pray that their eyes will be opened and that they will see their need for Jesus. Wow, this is a sobering lesson! It is a reminder to us that the Gospel is so transforming that we can learn to love our enemies. Wow, Paul must have been so empowered in his ministry when he saw the love that the people in Thessalonica had for their enemies! He was seeing the power of the Gospel in others as he had seen it firsthand in his life.
Are you loving people like Jesus loves you? This is the power of the Gospel.
The fruit of this love is holiness. As we love people more and more, as we love the Lord more and more, we work to live godly, blameless lives that do all we can to get rid of the stumbling blocks that may keep people from seeking Jesus. It does not mean we are sinless or perfect, but when we fail, we take responsibility and seek forgiveness. This, too, is the power of the Gospel. Are you growing in your love for others, the Lord, and the Gospel? I pray that I will stand fast in the middle of tough times, that I will live a godly and blameless life, and that I will leave a good remembrance to those that I come in contact with, a remembrance that points them to Jesus and His love.
God bless you,
Dr. Sean Gooding
Pastor of Mississauga Missionary Baptist Church
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