The context of 1 Thessalonians 3 is that Paul, a pastor, has been separated from his people. He wants to know how they are doing and how this trial has affected their faith. He wrote a letter to them and he prays for them. Verse 1 says that when Paul “could no longer endure it,” he sent Timothy to encourage them in their faith. I do not know a better description of the past six months in 2020! The word of God is so up-to-date and relevant! Paul’s concern was that “by some means the tempter had tempted” them and that his labor was in vain (v. 5). How has the uncertainty and unrest of the pandemic affected your faith? How has the tempter deceived you and discouraged you? Do you ever feel like it is all in vain? It is not in vain! Life’s disappointments are God’s appointments. God can move you past your disappointments to His divine appointments. Difficulties have a divine purpose and plan. Timothy brought Paul a great report, so Paul prays for them to “stand fast” (v. 8). He also prays for their faith. Notice how many times the word is used in this passage (v. 2, 5, 6, 7, 10). We learn from Paul’s prayer that we are to pray thankfully, joyfully, continually, exceedingly, and specifically. We also see three things that we are to pray for:
Maturity of Faith
Verse 10 says, “night and day praying exceedingly that we may see your face and perfect what is lacking in your faith.” We all have things that are lacking in our lives. We can all get better. You can make excuses, or you can make progress, but you can’t make both! No one is perfect. God supplies what we need to grow. Everything that is healthy is growing. Are you making progress? You are either going forward or backward. Faith is like a muscle. It gets stronger when it is exercised. God allows affliction and trouble to test our faith. Faith that cannot be tested cannot be trusted. Chronological age has nothing to do with maturity.
Unity of Faith
Paul continues his prayer, “…and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all….” Notice the word “all.” That includes a love for the lost, for those you disagree with, for your enemies. Why does the Bible spend so much time telling us to love one another? People fight at home, work, school, on social media, in politics, etc. We cannot let the division of the world get in the church! L- Listen. Respect people enough to listen to what they say. O- Overlook. Forgive the flaws in others. V- Value. Respect and honor all life, one another. E- Express. Demonstrate it, say it, and show it. As the church, we are not members of a club, we are family! God planned it that babies would be born into families. Spiritually, He planned that believers would be born-again into a family, a local church. When one of us has a heartache, we all shed tears. We also rejoice with one another in times of victory.
Purity of Faith
The final thing Paul prays in chapter 3 is that they would be “blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints” (v. 13). The return of Jesus motivates us to live pure lives before God. We are not going to be perfect, but we should seek to be blameless. We should not be careless in our speech or thinking. Jesus is always listening. Have you been living carelessly? We should communicate judiciously and not just be part of the noise. We should live expectantly and see the big picture. Jesus is coming again! The blessed hope of the Lord’s return will both strengthen and sanctify you. Look around and you will be depressed. Look up and you will be blessed!
Like Paul prayed for the Thessalonians, Tammy and I pray for you. This week specifically, we are praying for your maturity, unity, and purity of faith. We pray that you are standing fast in the Lord and we thank God that as one family, we go through trials together and He will see us through!