Love Makes Sure…

If we love, we check on our loved ones, we make sure of them, of their whole being–especially of their faith.

Therefore, a word always connected to the previous thought–so, what is this ‘therefore’ wanting us to remember before we move on?  …   You are our glory and joy!  You are our hope or joy or crown of exultation, in the presence of our Lord Jesus at His Coming!!!  In light of His Advent, and our desire to be together for eternity…  because of the love already expressed in chapters one and two

Therefore, notice the men’s eagerness.  They could endure it no longer.  Paul and others knew distress, they knew angst, the felt and experienced all the trauma of these tribulations.  This was not “nothing” to them.  It was hard to endure.  He thought it out though.  He thought.

Q: How do we engage our brains, such that our whole being is involved in how we react, how we process, how we cling to hope and our life in Christ?  Heart, mind, soul and body, or heart, soul and might.    He thought, and stayed at Athens, and sent Timothy.

God’s fellow worker. 

Quite a compliment!!!  2 Cor 5, whether in the body or absent from the body, we strive to be pleasing to Him…  We are fellow workers.  1 Cor 3:9.  God’s fellow workers entails setting aside flesh and world so as to be about God’s work. Joining God in His work, not asking Him to join in ours. 

How did Jesus describe His own works?  He only does what He sees the Father doing–He does not act on His own, doing something separate or contrary.  Likewise, when we join God in His Work, we are not asking Him to bless our own ideas and do our own plans, we are prayerfully joining Him in His work. 

Love Incarnate

We see here a prime example of how our presence in one another’s lives is crucial.  Prime.  Crucial.  Carefully chosen words.  Crucial, crux, the cross. We manifest Jesus’ love as directed to in John 13 when we pray for, think of, and check on one another–face to face whenever possible. 

What was Timothy’s work?  To strengthen and encourage the church “as to your faith.”    “To establish you firmly and encourage you amid your afflictions.”  This is good work, one we all, as God fellow workers, should be about…  This work is part of the ministry necessary to the whole life of the church–remember no part is more important.  

Not to get ahead of ourselves, but they are commanded in an upcoming chapter, 5:11, to encourage one another. See also Romans 15:14, Hebrews 3:12-13, 10:25. If we follow Paul’s example of always viewing the Church in terms of family, then we will be more careful to encourage one another the way these passages describe.    

We will even pray for one another from 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 :

“Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace, comfort and strengthen your hearts in every good work and word.”   

Back to our passage, where Paul mentions “These afflictions…”    We kept telling you about these, and it has happened as we said it would.  Acts 16ff, but also 1 Cor 4:11–17. How can these passages, and Paul’s comfort in the midst of his all encompassing afflictions, teach us to pray at this time for the Church as she struggles against oppressors in various nations around the world?

Verse 4, we told you before, we know we are destined for this.   The apostles knew, they had been told by Jesus.  We know, we have been told by Jesus in His words–2 Thess 2:5, 1 Timothy 4:1-5; 2 Timothy 3:1-13.  1 Peter 3:20-25;  4:12ff; 2 John 7f .

When we could bear it no longer, or endure it no longer…

Fear of the temptor having tempted them; this sort of fear should compel us to pray, and toward action–but what sort of action?  Encouraging, making sure of their faith, strengthening one another, comforting one another, in every good work and word.   Or sending someone like Timothy–so consulting a small group leader or elder or mentor… 

 Matthew 4:3, 1 Cor 7:5, John 17:13-16

Timothy Inquired

Timothy’s second reason for being sent: to find out about your faith.  How would you feel if, in the midst of bad news or unsettling events or unstable times an elder called or emailed or sent someone to inquire of your faith?  Or, if they follow Scriptural exhortations concerning shepherding the flock, if they inquired of your faith periodically? Sometimes, we just want them to serve us, but “do not challenge my faith, of course I have faith!”  But they ought to inquire.  

What did Timothy find?  Three things.  He brought back good news of their faith and love, and their longing to see Paul and company.  And Paul knew it was all worth it.  Can you hear him breathe a sigh of relief, joy, and peace?  How did Paul know of their love?  

Most likely, Timothy saw it in action (chapter 1, they were known for their works of faith and labors of love), and they spoke with Timothy.  He was then able to confidently assert good news about their faith and love, and:  they think kindly of us (a contrast to those who squabble over “I am of Paul…I am of Apollos”) and long to see us as well!

True Comfort

Paul says “we,” speaking for all those ministering alongside, that they were comforted by this good news of the Thessalonians’ faith.  Paul’s comfort was wrapped up in knowing that God was at work, that those whom he thought to be true Christians have proven to be full of faith and love.  How much of our comfort in this life is in knowing God is at work in and through His people?  John 5:17

He also boldly claims that they “really live, if you stand firm in the Lord.”  This is the heart of a true pastor/shepherd/missionary/etc.  And once again evocative of true family life.  Child astray?  Grief, anguish, turmoil, sadness, despair; c a n n o t breathe.  Child full of faith and love, the evidence of sanctification? LIVING!  1 Cor 16:13; Gal 5:1; 

Really living?   Ponder this week Philipians 3:12-14 and 1 Timothy 6:11-21.  We pick up next week by continuing this thought, that Paul and his cohorts really live if…  and think more about how the faith of these church members impacts them.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

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