Today’s reading is from 1 Thessalonians 3.
This chapter ends Paul’s review of his relationship with the Thessalonians. Starting tomorrow in chapter 4, we’ll read some more direct instructions to the church.
Persecution was a factor in Paul’s relationship to this church. First, they suffered persecution for their faith in Christ (vv. 3-4). We read a brief description of this in Acts 17:5-9 when a man named Jason and “some other believers” (v. 5) faced legal charges for letting Paul and his team stay in their home. Maybe there was more--possibly much more--trouble that the Thessalonian believers faced beyond what Luke described in Acts 17. Paul was concerned that this persecution would supplant the gospel and that those who had responded to Paul’s message would not endure (v. 5).
Paul himself also continued to experience persecution in some of the places he traveled and the good report Timothy brought about the faith of the Thessalonians encouraged him (vv. 6-7). This caused Paul to ask God to allow them to return to Thessalonica (vv. 10-11). In the meantime, he continued to pray for their spiritual growth and strength (vv. 12-13).
There are times in our lives when someone we love is physically separated from us. It might be a child away at college, a spouse away on a business trip, a brother or sister who lives in another state. We have phones and texting and other ways of communication that help keep those relationship bonds strong. But we don’t see the person we love, so we may wonder if they are dealing with temptations or giving into temptations we know they face. We may wonder if they are involved in a church and if they are continuing to grow in their faith by spending time in the word and prayer. These are all godly concerns but the best answer to them is to pray. Pray for God to protect the faith of those you love who are away. Pray that the Lord would keep them from temptation and strengthen them to do right if they are tempted. Ask God to give them a hunger for his word so that they keep growing in grace. This is the best way to exercise faith in a situation like this so let your concern for a believer you love lead you to pray for that person often and specifically for his or her spiritual life.