1 Thessalonians 3
1 Thessalonians 3:1-13
· In Chapter 2 we learn that Satan himself hindered Paul from returning to Thessalonica
· Paul was desperate to know how the believers in Thessalonica were doing (he could no longer endure the not knowing)
· He feared two things:
1. They would be disturbed and troubled by the afflictions they were facing
2. That would have tempted in some way that would render Paul’s labor in Thessalonica worthless.
· Paul’s attitude toward suffering seems to be this: it is expected and worth it if people are coming to faith (the opposition in Thessalonica was intense – see Acts 17)
· Paul, since he could not go, sent Timothy to encourage the believers there.
· Paul was most concerned about their faith (he mentions their faith five times)
1. Timothy was sent to strengthen and encourage their faith (vs. 2)
2. Paul wanted to find out about their faith (vs. 5)
3. Paul heard good news of their faith and love (vs. 6)
4. Paul was comforted when he heard their faith was strong (vs. 7)
5. Paul wants to see them face to face so he can complete what is lacking in their faith. (vs. 10)
· Paul greatly rejoices that his sheep are standing firm in the Lord
· Even though Timothy brings a good report, Paul still earnestly prays to see them in person.
· Paul then prays for the Thessalonians that they will:
· abound in love for one another,
· and abound in love for all people
· Paul also prays that God will:
o establish their hearts without blame in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints.
1. Paul eagerly desires to know how his disciples are doing. He fears for them. He earnestly prays for them. And He eagerly desires to see them so that he can build up their faith. When he can’t go, He sends a trustworthy person to encourage them in the faith. I want to have this same heart towards the people that I shepherd.
2. Paul seems to be mostly concerned with the faith of the Thessalonians. Are they standing strong in the Lord? I feel convicted. I may ask those I shepherd many questions like: How is this going? How are you doing in that area? Those are fine questions but some of my go to questions should be: How is your relationship with God? How do you see Him working in your life? What is He teaching you through the Word and your time with Him? Where are you struggling to believe in God’s character or promises?
3. Paul is willing to endure suffering so that others might have faith. Too often I want what’s comfortable for myself more than I am willing to suffer so that someone else might know Christ. I want to be a person who is willing to suffer for the sake of others.
4. Paul seems to care deeply about four things for the Thessalonians. 1) Are they increasing? 2) Are they standing firm in the Lord and living a life of faith? 3) Are they abounding in love for one another and for all people? 4) Are their hearts established without blame and with all holiness? Are those the kinds of things I pray for/desire/care about for the people I disciple? They should be.
Father, I always think of Paul as a great evangelist but he is also a great shepherd. He cares so deeply about the people he launches into faith. He longs to see them. He longs to encourage them in their faith. And he earnestly prays for them. I’ve always thought of myself as a caring person, but next to Paul I feel apathetic. The comparison in this case is good. Thank you for his example. I feel both convicted and challenged. Lord, please help me to pray earnestly for the people I shepherd. Help me to love them deeply. Help me to strengthen and encourage them in their faith. And when I can’t do it, I pray there are others who I can send to do the same. Help me to be willing to suffer so that they or others might know Christ. And I pray for moments where I “really live” because those I shepherd are standing firm in their faith in the midst of suffering. I do rejoice, as Paul rejoiced, because so many of them standing firm right now. And Lord, I want to pray Paul’s prayer for all of Trinity Church. May You cause us to increase and abound in love for one another and for all people, just as Paul loved the Thessalonians and as You have loved us. And I pray that You would establish our hearts without blame in holiness before You, are God and Father, and before Jesus Christ with the coming of all the saints. Amen.
Posted on Wed, March 18, 2015
by Karen Miller