1 Thessalonians 3:5-9
Last time we looked at how Paul desired to be with the new Christians at Thessalonica but he couldn’t go, so he sent Timothy. Timothy was a great friend and help to Paul’s ministry. Paul wanted the people to know that if you are going to live your faith out as you should, then you can expect to be persecuted. Timothy was sent to set them on the right path and to encourage them, so that they would not be shaken.
Do you worry over someone else’s faith?
What brings you life?
What brings you joy?
5 For this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter have tempted you, and our labour be in vain.
6 But now when Timotheus came from you unto us, and brought us good tidings of your faith and charity, and that ye have good remembrance of us always, desiring greatly to see us, as we also to see you:
7 Therefore, brethren, we were comforted over you in all our affliction and distress by your faith:
8 For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord.
9 For what thanks can we render to God again for you, for all the joy wherewith we joy for your sakes before our God;
So Paul is so concerned for these new Christians that he can’t stand not knowing if they are still strong in the faith, so he sends Timothy to find out. What was Paul concerned with? Their faith. He wasn’t concerned with what they were actually enduring, but instead how their faith was holding up. Paul knew what it was to suffer. Paul understood physical pain. Paul understood what is was like to be left for dead outside a city and get back up again. Paul also knew emotional pain. What it was like to lose friends because of his faith. Paul knows that the most important aspect of these new Christians walk with the Lord is their faith.
Who did Paul say was involved in their possible wayward faith? The tempter, or Satan. These are very strong words. Not only could Satan instigate the persecution, but he could exploit it so that people would doubt God’s love for them and they would just quit.
Paul thought that if these people had lost faith, and given up, then Paul, Timothy and Silas’s labor would have been in vain. Wow. Sometimes when we work so hard to help others know the Lord better, and encourage them to continue in the faith, people still don’t continue. This is one of the most exhausting and heartbreaking things in the ministry. At that moment you can either give up, or go get the person and set them on the right path again and encourage them even more. That is exactly what Paul did. He sent more resources, Timothy in this case, to make sure these people didn’t lose faith.
Are you willing to keep going after those that seem to lose hope, or have just plain given up? What are you willing to give up in order to reach those who have lost faith?
So we know the motivation behind Paul sending Timothy to the church. It turns out that Paul’s worry was for nothing. This church was doing extremely well. The people hadn’t lost faith but instead Timothy reports back to Paul that their faith is strong and their love for others is just as strong. What great news to hear.
Paul then goes on to say that the people didn’t think bad things about Paul as others were trying to get them to believe. Instead the people wanted to see Paul and Paul wanted to see them.
Paul then said that Paul and the others were comforted by the faith of this church. Paul said we live if your faith is strong and steady. Notice the joy that this news brings to Paul. His labor wasn’t in vain. The Gospel is spreading. People are living out their faith.
Most people look at discipling someone as a chore. We should see it as a blessing. We should see it as giving us life. I love to see people grow up in the Lord and become strong. I love to see new Timothy’s. People who were new becoming strong and serving the Lord.
Paul and other leaders through the years take pleasure in knowing that others are living out their lives in faithful service to the Lord. The apostle John expressed this well in 3 John 1:4
“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.”
John, Paul, Timothy and others true Joy comes from knowing that those that they have taught and labored over, are walking in the truth.
What brings you life? What brings you joy?