In the opening portion of his second-recorded epistle to the saints in Thessalonica, the apostle Paul had words of commendation and appreciation for the young congregation. Hear the words which we identify as 2 Thessalonians 1:3,4:
(3) We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other, (4) so that we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure.
The Thessalonian Christians were real people, folks who, like you and me, had to live in an imperfect world and deal with various matters in life which were not ideal. Here are some things we can “take away” from Paul’s moving message to them.
Thank God for faithful brethren! What did Paul tell them? “We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren . . .” (1:3). Surely you and I would echo those sentiments today: thank God for faithful brothers and sisters in the Lord who do so much!
Are we not blessed when brethren humbly serve us? (Galatians 5:13).
Are we not blessed when brethren treat us like family? (Mark 10:29,30).
Are we not blessed when brethren show hospitality to us? (1 Peter 4:9).
Are we not blessed when brethren reach out to comfort and edify us? (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
Are we not blessed when brethren exhort us? (Hebrews 3:13).
Are we not blessed when brethren pray for us? (James 5:16).
Are we not blessed when brethren stand with us in fighting the good fight of faith? (2 Timothy 4:7).
Are we not blessed when brethren put our best
interests above their own? (Philippians 2:3,4).
Are we not blessed when brethren love us, doing and saying that which benefits us? (1 John 3:16-18).
Yes, it is wonderful to be a part of God’s family, which is, hands down, the greatest family on the planet! Thank God for His faithful children, who are such a blessing to His Cause.
Thank God for brethren whose faith is growing! Paul’s description of the Thessalonians’ faith: “your faith grows exceedingly” (1:3). Did the members of the church there have faith? They sure did. But, more than possessing faith, their faith was growing. And, not only was their faith growing, it was growing exceedingly. How encouraging to witness such faith!
Is it possible for you and me to imitate their faith, a faith that was growing exceedingly? Of course! Remember, it is great to grow in knowledge (2 Peter 3:18), but growing in knowledge of God’s word does not always translate into growing faith. Some people have acquired and continue to acquire great amounts of knowledge, but currently they do not live by faith.
On the other hand, our hearts rejoice to see sisters and brothers, both elderly and youthful alike, growing immensely in their personal faith. Because they have learned to trust in the Lord at all times (Psalm 62:8) with all of their heart (Proverbs 3:5), they now have the courage to do what the Lord instructs them to do: things like resist the devil (1 Peter 5:8,9), put God’s Cause first (Matthew 6:33), and reach out to those whose souls are in danger (Galatians 6:1).
Thank God for brethren whose love is abounding! Paul told them: “the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other” (1:3). Did you notice? It was not just a small percentage of them who demonstrated love. No, it was “every one” of them abounding in love. How encouraging to see brethren today who genuinely care about the physical, material, and spiritual needs of others. Love provides meals for the hungry or grieving. Love brings the gospel to close neighbors and people living in faraway lands. Love takes care of orphans and widows (James 1:27). Love kindly communicates to settle disputes that inevitably arise in a local church. Love rebukes the rebellious, and love forgives those who repent. Let us all be diligent to grow and abound in love (2 Peter 1:5,7).
Thank God for brethren who maintain faith and patience in the midst of tough times, even persecutions and tribulations! The disciples in Thessalonica faced great challenges, some of which could not have been pleasant to face in their day-to- day lives. Yet, through it all they continued to manifest patience and faith (1:4). “Patience” is from a Greek word (“ / hupomon ”) which means “steadfastness, constancy, endurance; in the NT the characteristic of a man who is not swerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest trials and suffering” [Thayer, no. 5281]. The church still is blessed today to have brothers and sisters who by faith and love persevere despite health challenges, financial concerns, family issues, and many other potential hindrances. We say it again: thank God for brethren!
— Roger D. Campbell