Friday, July 26, 2013

1 Thessalonians 3 - Praying Them Toward Maturity

LINK: 1 Thessalonians 3

BACKGROUND 


Paul continued to express his concern that he started in 2:17. Paul could not return to them, but he could send Timothy to strengthen them and encourage them in the midst of their trials. After Timothy visited, he rejoined Paul in Corinth (Acts 18:1-5). 


He reminded them that persecution was "par for the course" if they wanted to follow God in a pagan culture. He was also concerned about them being tempted to return to paganism, but Timothy brought good news of them standing firm in their faith! 


He closes the chapter by stating that he prayed for them night and day (3:10. Are you putting that on your topical list about follow-up?). He prayed that he would see their faces, complete his follow-up of them so that they would be mature in Christ (Colossians 1:27-28), that they would grow in love for each other and all people, and their hearts would be established blameless in holiness before God. 


REFLECTION 

Paul added his own stabilizing reminder that trials are not necessarily a sign of God’s disfavor, but are part of every Christian’s legacy. When trouble comes, Christians often react by doubting that they are where God wants them to be; they often think that they have done something wrong and that God must be displeased with them. Even some mature Christians react this way, as evidenced by Paul’s words of reassurance to Timothy many years later. “Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim. 3:12). Yet storms often come to believers to make them able to stand firm, rather than to blow them away (cf. 2 Cor. 4:15-16).
(The Bible Knowledge Commentary, Volume 2, p. 698)
I can attest that "even mature Christians react this way." I am such a WIMP when it comes to persecution. The worst I have ever experienced was when I was in a sorority in college. There were girls who HATED me, and I didn't even know them. I kept on wondering what I had done wrong, but I think it was just because of what I represented to them. The one who persecuted me the most was at a reunion tea this last year, and I swallowed hard when she walked in the room after not seeing her for 32 years, but I quickly recovered. It was a gentle reminder to continue to pray for her and others from that era of my life. 

APPLICATION 

Continue to do your topical study on follow-up. 

Is there a spiritual child you can pray for? 

PRAYER


Lord, give us a heart like Paul who loved those he led and invested deeply in them. Amen. 
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