This morning as I was studying 1 Thessalonians chapter 3 I realized the depth of love Paul had for the believers.
Paul’s love for the church in Thessalonica is beautifully stated in 2: 7-12 when he shares his love and concern with them using the examples of the way a mother and father would love their children.
We proved gentle…as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children. Having so fond affection…you had become very dear to us…we were exhorting and encouraging and imploring each one of you…walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you.
Then in Chapter 3 we see how Paul just could not endure any longer the thought of not knowing what was going on in the lives of the believers. Paul had a great desire to see the faces. In chapter 2 he tells us that he had tried to come for a visit, but Satan had hindered him. So Paul sends Timothy.
Why was this visit so important? Why was Paul so anxious for a visit? Was it because longed to chit chat with them over a cup of coffee? Or wanted to party? Or go the the chariot races?
No my dear sisters, Paul longed to visit them so that he could strengthen and encourage them in their faith. He was concerned that they might be disturbed by the afflictions that they were going through and by the afflictions that they had heard Paul was going through. He feared that the tempter might have tempted them and his labor would have been in vain.
Paul sent Timothy because he had to know about their faith.
When Timothy brought back the good report Paul was encouraged. Why? Because the believers in Thessalonica were standing firm in their faith. They too longed for Paul to visit. They missed him.
Paul sent Timothy to encourage the believers, to make sure they were holding on to their faith. In return Paul was also encouraged. Verses 7 and 8 says “for this reason, brethren, in all our distress and affliction we were comforted about you through your faith; for now we really live, if you stand firm in the Lord.”
My dear sisters, do you see it? We need to be concerned for one another. We need to long for visits for the purpose of encouragement and strengthening one another in our faith. I need to be so bold to be willing to ask my sisters were their faith is. How is their time with the Lord? What is God teaching them? What are they currently struggling with? How can I encourage them? Pray for them? Love on them?
My time with my sister in Christ needs to be about them and how I can lift them up in the faith – not about me. I need to remember that regardless of what I am going through, no matter the affliction I am facing I should have great concern for what my sisters are doing. I need to be reaching out to them in order to encourage them, strengthen them and build them up. It is in doing this that I will be comforted and encouraged in my own faith.