I Thessalonians 3
"For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord." I Thessalonians 3:8
Many times there are people in our lives who are very special and dear to us, but they live far away from us. Sometimes this causes a longing in our hearts to see them. Often we have a deep concern for their physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being; but we feel limited in what we can do to better interact with them.
Paul had a great love and concern for the Thessalonian church. Paul was longing to see if they still were standing firm in their faith. Paul was hindered from going to them, however, by distance and circumstances. Finally, Paul could stand it no longer; and he sent Timothy to check on the believers in the Thessalonian church. Paul was concerned that the persecution and trials they were suffering would make them discouraged and give up on their faith. Paul was concerned that they would be lured away by the devil, because they were going through these difficult times in their lives. Timothy came back with a good report about the Thessalonian church, however. Timothy reported to Paul about this church's "faith and love" (I Thessalonians 3:6). Timothy also told Paul that this church was "standing firm in the Lord" (I Thessalonians 3:8b).
We too must find ourselves "standing firm in the Lord" even in times of great difficulty. Trials and tests are not accidents. Rather they are divine appointments given to us from the Lord. Often trials and tests in our lives help us to grow spiritually, and they help us to become more like the Lord Jesus Christ. Trials and tests help us to depend on the Lord instead of ourselves and other people. If we stand firm in our faith in the midst of trials and tests, our lives will be wonderful testimonies of God's grace to others. To be able to stand firm in our faith we need to be deeply immersed in God's Word and prayer, and we need to grow and develop in our love relationship with our Lord.
We also need to be concerned about our fellow believer's physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. Paul was unable to come to his fellow believers in the Thessalonian church, so he sent Timothy to them. Then he sent the letter of I Thessalonians to them. We must demonstrate this same kind of love to others, as Paul demonstrated to the Thessalonian church. We can even show this same kind of love to those who are living far away from us by sending letters, e-mails, and cards and by visiting them when we can. When Paul heard that the Thessalonian church was persevering in their faith he said in I Thessalonians 3:8, "For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord." We need to have that same kind of concern for the spiritual welfare of others.
Finally, Paul prayed for the Thessalonian church. Paul's prayer for the Thessalonian church is found in I Thessalonians 3:12-13. Paul prayed, "May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. May He strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all His holy ones."
We also must pray for others even those who live great distances away from us. Our prayer for ourselves and others should be that our love for each other will increase and be overflowing. We also need to pray that we will grow in holiness, and that our heartfelt passion will be to serve and love the Lord. Our prayer for ourselves and others must be that we will always be found, "standing firm in the Lord," (I Thessalonians 3:8b) and that Jesus Christ will remain our only hope and purpose for time and eternity.