As I review and take stock of my life, a couple of things stand out: the presence of God and the wonderful people He has placed in my life. As I was reading Paul’s prayer and introduction in the book of 2 Thessalonians I was impressed by the way he prayed for others. In his prayer/intro to the book I saw that He prays for three things regarding the people of this church. Paul did not speak of their physical attributes or many accomplishments, he focused on their faith and love.
1 Thessalonians 1:3-4 3 We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters,[a] and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing. 4 Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring.
- First, Paul gives thanks that their faith is growing. ..“because your faith is growing more and more.” They were growing not satisfied with yesterdays experience, they were stretching upward to spiritual maturity. My prayer today for each of us is that we will not rely solely on past experiences, but grow and stretch in our faith.
- Second, Paul gives thanks that their love is increasing. “the love all of you have for one another is increasing.” Notice that it is no accident that their faith and love are growing and increasing at the same time. They go together, or they should go together. Jesus said that love would be the distinguishing maker of his followers: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35) We grow in our love not because we always agree on every point, or because we have so much in common. We love because He first loved us. If we lose sight of our first and primary love, God, we will squabble. When we do grow in our love for one another, because we are loved by Jesus and love Him in return this growing love is a sign of His love and grace in our lives.
- Third Paul gives thank that they are persevering. “we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring.” Two things in this part of the passage that we do not talk about very much. Persevering and persecution. Because of God’s grace we continue on, through heartbreak, disappointment, grief, pain and loss of every kind, we do not give up and we cling to God and our faith. Jesus promised us that there would be opposition. problems and that troubles are a given. The promise is that He is with us and He has over overcome the world.
Today my friend whatever is happening do not give up. I have been reflecting not only on God’s goodness to me, but how often His goodness was lived out through the help and encouragement I received from the people He placed in my life. There were times when someone appeared with just the right words, the right help, and it made a difference in my life. As we are moving fast into a new year I would like to be the kind of friend that God has given me down through the years. May I grow in my love and faith that I can see things from God’s perspective. There have been wonderful spiritual mountain tops in my life and I have loved those experiences. Yet, I must be truthful, the times of greatest spiritual growth has come when I have walked through trying and difficult valleys.
Today as I was praying I want you to know dear friend. I am thankful to God for you! Thank you for being a part of my life. Thank you for the difference you have made. I am better for having had you a part of my life.
Let’s keep growing in our faith and love.