1 Thessalonians 3:9-13
Responding to Timothy’s report from the Church in Thessalonica, Paul expresses his joy and affection. In the short time Paul was there (Acts 17:2-9) many were converted and a new and vibrant church began. As we begin the Advent we see two aspects of fruitfulness that help us to prepare for the Lord’s return:
Firstly Paul’s delight in their faith. Paul’s joy in the Thessalonian’s faith resembles Jesus’ saying that, “ there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” Paul’s feeling for the young Thessalonian church should remind us of the joy of seeing people saved. God’s power and the benefits of salvation are so clearly displayed in the early days of salvation that mission should be a fundamental part of our worship and enjoyment of God. This challenges us as a church to have the right focus on mission, such is the joy of new-birth, that a church without converts should be beseeching the Lord for spiritual children.
It also helps us to recall the transformation of our own conversion, and to remember all that God did in the early years of establishing our faith.
Secondly, we see Paul’s desire that they would have the same love for each other and for others as he has for them. This focus on affection is a vital part of church life. Our love for others is a clear signs of our spiritual health. Paul’s prayer challenges us: Is affection for others present in us individually and as a church? Is it growing? It is overflowing?
The last part of Paul’s prayer speaks of being holy and blameless at the Lord’s return. As we prepare ourselves at Advent once more to meet with God, Paul’s prayer calls us to realise that holiness is the result of a focus on fruitfulness.