Archive for December 9th, 2017

1 Thessalonians 3

1 Thessalonians 3 has Paul explaining why he was willing to send his right hand man, Timothy, to them while he stayed alone back in Athens.  This was a significant cost and investment Paul is making to care for the church in Thessalonica, but since he was unable to go himself he sent the best he had on his behalf.  Timothy’s charge was to “establish and exhort” the Christ Followers there.  Both are necessary, but establishing comes first. Encouragement can really only come after we are established in the right direction; otherwise, we are only encouraged to go further down the wrong path.

The believers in Thessalonica were under affliction, but Paul had warned them it was coming.  “For when we were with you, we kept telling you beforehand that we were to suffer affliction, just as it has come to pass, and just as you know”.  Being a Christ Follower comes with a price.  For many around the globe, a significant part of the cost Jesus warns us to count, is suffering and persecution.  In our place and time, we’ve not experienced what many of our predecessors and those from other parts of the world experienced in the past and present.  But we need to prepare for suffering in the future as it is coming our way.

The enemy was after Christ Followers then, as he is today.  Paul reminds them “the tempter had tempted you”.  Paul recognized that the tempter – that is, Satan – wanted to take advantage of the chaos created by this time of suffering. As it was with Job, Satan wanted to tempt the Thessalonians to give up on God.  He exhorts them to stay the course, and assures them that they are praying to “see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith”.  All of us get discouraged from time to time in our faith.  We need people around us that can not only keep us on course, but can encourage us to keep moving along the path on our journey to follow Jesus.

Paul ends this chapter with a prayer for the people there.  “Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you, and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints”.  Paul focuses on having these Christ Followers live a life of love for each other.  Why?  He writes “so that”.  The result of loving one another is it establishes our hearts blameless and holy.  If we are focused on loving others, we put our biggest problem – our focus on self – aside and we can live as Christ Followers focused on what matters which is the people around us.  Being a Christ Follower is not about me.  It is about those around me.  Love is what God wants them to experience through me.

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