1 Thessalonians 3:9-13
9 For what thanks can we render to God for you in return for all the joy with which we rejoice before our God on your account, 10 as we night and day keep praying most earnestly that we may see your face, and may complete what is lacking in your faith? 11 Now may our God and Father Himself and Jesus our Lord direct our way to you; 12 and may the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another, and for all people, just as we also do for you; 13 so that He may establish your hearts without blame in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints.
Verses 9-10 encapsulate how I feel sometimes when God answers prayers I have prayed earnestly. Paul is expressing here that he can’t even be thankful enough to express the joy he has in the report he received about Thessalonica. He cannot do anything to be good enough as a return gesture to God. I feel that way about my own salvation. I believe this is why we shouldn’t take it for granted; rather we need to live out our gratitude each day. I see this reflected in verse 12.
Paul’s expression of wanting to visit them again and see how much they’ve grown as a church is echoed. However, his desire to see them again is trumped by his second prayer: the growth and maturity of the church. I believe this is a part of his Christ-likeness shining through. He wants to see the church flourish and abound in love for each other as well as those that are “outside” the church. This is what Christ calls us to in the first place.
Remember in the book of James we read about all these things in regards to what our faith in Christ lookslike? Here is another glimpse from Paul about the same thing. Our allegiance to God and His will result in verse 13, that He may establish your hearts without blame in holiness. You see, the love for others is a result of following Christ and being saved, which as its end result will be our union with God forever in His Glory.
This is one of those passages that makes me turn to unbelievers and ask, “why wouldn’t you want that?” I have trouble understanding sometimes why and how people reject this. I suppose because it’s hard to trust things these days because we’ve been burned so many times, so we couldn’t possibly believe in something so wonderful. As it’s been said, “Without hope there is no life.”
How can you show someone this hope today?