I Thessalonians 3:6 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;
10 Night and day praying exceedingly that we might see your face, and might perfect that which is lacking in your faith?
11 Now God himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way unto you.
12 And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you:
13 To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.
Paul gave the saints in Thessalonica the background on his decision to send Timotheus unto them. Now he encouraged them with the good report that Timotheus brought back from Thessalonica. The saints in Thessalonica were growing in the Lord. They were faithful to the truth. They had absorbed the Word of the Lord that Paul had preached to them. They were building on the truth. The enemies of the truth were not overwhelming them. This is a mark of a true child of God. The Word of God is of greater power than the lies of the enemies of the cross. The Holy Spirit indwelling the true child of God is well able to guide the true child of God into a closer walk with God.
It is a blessing to hear good news of those you have ministered to. Paul was not the pastor of the church in Thessalonica. He was an apostle and an evangelist. He travelled to many different places. He went to establish true churches and he also went back to those churches to encourage them. At times as in this letter, he wrote to them when he could not be with them.
The saints there demonstrated their faith and charity. They also spoke well of the apostle and those with him. We have already noted that Paul was not interested in flattery. It is good when people appreciate those who give of their time and energy to help them to know the truth and grow in it. The saints in Thessalonica had a desire to see Paul again as well. The desire for fellowship was mutual.
In verse 7 Paul encouraged the saints in that they had been a comfort to him. Timotheus had seen the faithfulness of the saints in person. He brought back a good report. Paul and Silvanus could rejoice with Timotheus, that the saints were behaving as true saints should.
In verse 8 Paul reminded them that their spirits were encouraged in the good testimony that Timotheus could give of the saints in Thessalonica. He both encouraged them and also continued to challenge them to remain faithful. We cannot take our faith for granted. God is faithful. He holds His child in His hand. The saved person cannot lose their salvation. They can have a poor testimony. That poor testimony is due to a lack of obedience to God’s Word. By the grace of God that was not so for the saints in Thessalonica.
In verse 9 Paul spoke of how very encouraged he was with the testimony he had received. He did not know where to begin to thank God for the good word he had received. It seems that many are taking the privilege of being a part of a true local church, for granted. They wrongly assume that church is a one way street. They have blinders on and cannot see the blessing that God designed the local church to be for both the leaders and the members. Unlike Paul’s ministry, no local church will be perfect. Paul’s words that are recorded were perfect. Paul’s writings are inspired of God. They are the Words of God. No pastor can make that claim today. When he reads from the Word of God, that is obviously the Word of God. When he preaches, he is giving his understanding and application of what has been written. The true local pastor must walk in the fear of God so as to let God give him the correct interpretation and to make the right application of the text. True Christians should never write off any promise of God. Jesus Christ promised to build His church upon Himself. Any true pastor will be careful to guide the flock God has given him on the true Word of God. He will build upon the Lord Jesus Christ, through the inspired Word of God.
We are reminded in these verses of the blessing that faithful saints are to other faithful saints. Paul was directed by God to write about the encouragement that he had received from the godly testimony of the saints in Thessalonica. Paul and Silvanus and Timotheus had faced some stiff persecution. They were not discouraged, but nevertheless they could use some encouragement that their sufferings were not in vain. The saints in Thessalonica were an encouragement to these men because they were walking by faith in the true God.
In verse 10 Paul continued to remind the saints of how he prayed for them night and day. It is a blessing to know other saints are praying for you. Paul desired to know how to pray more effectively for the saints. Thus he sent Timotheus to them. Paul could pray with thanksgiving for the obedience of the saints. He also continued to pray for further opportunity to meet with them in person. Again we see why he wanted to meet with them. He wanted to continue to encourage them to grow in their faith in God.
God again shows us that there is a need for personal contact with people. Paul would continue to pray for them. However, he understood the importance of being with the people in person to help them to grow properly. Through personal observation, you get a better sense of where a person is truly at. You can speak remotely with a person and seek counsel. However, when you actually live where you can rub shoulders with the pastor and observe his life and work with him, you get to know who the man is. What makes this man tick. Is he a man that has a heart for the people? Is he a man who has a heart for the things of God? Does he not only desire truth, but does he actually speak the truth regardless of the consequences? God knows what He is doing. His way is always the right way.
In verse 11 Paul committed his plans and desires to the only One Who could make things happen. Paul was not going to go against his Father’s will. It would have been counter productive for him to push ahead with his own desires without God’s blessings. We see here that even though Paul’s desire was good, God’s will was best. This is what we need to learn if we are saved. We can have good intentions, but God may have a different plan. His plan is always right. Paul included the Lord Jesus Christ in this as well because they are one. We see here that he was directed to speak of “our” Father and “our” Lord Jesus Christ. There is only one true God and only one true Saviour. There are many false gods. All true saints have the same God. Thus all true saints need to work at being in agreement with the true God. Unity is not built through compromise. It is built through truth.
In verse 12 Paul showed the saints what was important. It was not earthly treasures. It was heavenly treasures. It was that love for one another that is so important. There needs to be a genuine love for the saints, but then also for all men. Paul stated that his team had shown genuine love toward the Thessalonians. They knew what true love looks like. Paul and the others had been willing to spend time with the saints in Thessalonica at great risk to their own well-being. They were not ashamed to be with the saints. They were not running from trouble. They were willing to pour out their time and energy for the purpose of seeing the saints growing in the Lord.
In verse 13 Paul reminded the saints that as they would abound in love one toward another, they would be stablished in their hearts. They would be unblameable. They would not be guilty before the Lord. That is what is important. It is more important to be right with the Lord than to be in a compromised position with men.
Holiness before God is what matters. People might slander the true child of God. The true child of God needs to be sure that he is walking humbly with the true God. The true saint is always living in anticipation of the soon return of the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul mentioned this several times in this letter. This was an important theme then and it needs to be an important theme today as well.
Those who are saved know this is not our final resting place. This is not our home. We are pilgrims here. We have work to do. We have souls to witness to. We have saints to be an encouragement to. As we serve God faithfully, we will not be ashamed when we meet the Lord Jesus Christ. Notice that all “His” saints will be together when the Lord comes. That appearing is only for true saints.