1 Thessalonians 3:9-13
9 For how can we thank God enough for you, for all the joy we feel because of you before our God? 10 We pray earnestly night and day to see you in person and make up what may be lacking in your faith. 11 Now may God our Father himself and our Lord Jesus direct our way to you. 12 And may the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we do for you, 13 so that your hearts are strengthened in holiness to be blameless before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.
Context: In the previous passage, Paul learned of Timothy’s report that the Thessalonians were firm in their faith. Now Paul expresses his thanks for them, his continued desire to visit them, and his desire for God to cause them to abound in love that their character is strengthened in holiness.
For how can we thank God enough for you, for all the joy we feel because of you before our God? –
- Meaning Paul thanked God with joy in prayer for the perseverance of the Thessalonians’ faith.
We pray earnestly night and day to see you in person and make up what may be lacking in your faith –
- Meaning Paul prayed with great effort to God that it may be possible to see them in person.
- In person, Paul desired to encourage them and to help them through any doubts in their faith while they endured their persecution.
- He also desired to teach them and increase the knowledge of the faith in general.
- John Calvin writing on their faith. “From this we infer that those who far surpass others are still far distant from the goal. Hence, whatever progress we may have made, let us keep in view our deficiencies, that we may not be reluctant to aim at something further.”
- Romans 1:11,12 (NET) 11 For I long to see you, so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you, 12 that is, that we may be mutually comforted by one another’s faith, both yours and mine.
- Philippians 1:23-25 (NET) 23 I feel torn between the two, because I have a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far, 24 but it is more vital for your sake that I remain in the body. 25 And since I am sure of this, I know that I will remain and continue with all of you for the sake of your progress and joy in the faith,
- 2 Peter 1:5-7 (NET) 5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith excellence, to excellence, knowledge; 6 to knowledge, self-control; to self-control, perseverance; to perseverance, godliness; 7 to godliness, brotherly affection; to brotherly affection, unselfish love.
What holds us back from praying for other’s faith night and day ?
In what ways does consistently attending church and meeting with other believers mutually help make up what is lacking in our faith?
How does consistent study of the scripture make up what is lacking in our faith?
Do you remember a time when you had serious doubts in your faith? How did you get through the trial?
Now may God our Father himself and our Lord Jesus direct our way to you –
- This was Paul’s desire and prayer though it was not a guarantee to happen unless it is God’s will.
- James 4:13-15 (NET) 13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into this or that town and spend a year there and do business and make a profit.” 14 You do not know about tomorrow. What is your life like? For you are a puff of smoke that appears for a short time and then vanishes. 15 You ought to say instead, “If the Lord is willing, then we will live and do this or that.”
- 1 John 5:14-15 (NET) 14 And this is the confidence that we have before him: that whenever we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us in regard to whatever we ask, then we know that we have the requests that we have asked from him.
Explain how to understand the balance of our prayers, our desires, and our actions with God’s sovereign plan?
And may the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we do for you –
- Meaning this is also part of Paul’s prayer for them. Paul trusts God ‘to make’ the Thessalonians to increase and to excel in their love.
- Their love should abound inward toward one another and outward toward those outside the church.
- Other Verses about love.
- Matthew 5:43-48 (NET) 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor’ and ‘hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be like your Father in heaven, since he causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Even the tax collectors do the same, don’t they? 47 And if you only greet your brothers, what more do you do? Even the Gentiles do the same, don’t they? 48 So then, be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
- Matthew 22:36-40 (NET) 36 “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” 37 Jesus said to him, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 The second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”
- John 3:16 (NET) 16 For this is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
- 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NET) 4 Love is patient, love is kind, it is not envious. Love does not brag, it is not puffed up. 5 It is not rude, it is not self-serving, it is not easily angered or resentful. 6 It is not glad about injustice, but rejoices in the truth. 7 It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
- Galatians 5:22-23 (NET) 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
Explain how the Lord may ’cause us’ to abound in love?
Can you give examples of how we show love to those within the church?
Can you give examples of how we show love to those outside the church?
Can you think of very immature people in your life that test your love?
so that your hearts are strengthened in holiness to be blameless before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints-
- “So” means there is a result in abounding in love toward others.
- The result of abounding in love towards others will be that the Thessalonians’ character (heart) will be strengthened and established in moral purity (holiness).
- The result of their holy character is they will be free from blame before the Father at the coming of Jesus and all His saints.
- Thayer’s Greek Lexicon
- καρδία, kardía, kar-dee’-ah means of the will and character.
- Thayer’s Greek Lexicon defines this Greek word as moral purity in the passages context.
- Thayer’s Greek Lexicon
- ἄμεμπτος means blameless, deserving no censure, free from fault or defect.
Explain how specific sins against others weakens our moral purity (holiness)?
Explain how loving those who are ‘difficult’ to love strengthens our moral purity (holiness)?
Why do you think Paul associates loving others with being blameless before God the Father at the coming of Christ and all His saints?
Listening Prayer method – a method where you write what you think God would say to you after meditating and studying a Bible passage.
How is The Lord Causing You to Abound in Love?
Are you praying night and day for the faith of others? Your prayer life is improving, but you need to love others more to make this spiritual discipline of prayer firm in your life.
Keep sharing your faith with other believers. Listen too. Mutually make up what is lacking in each other’s faith. My scripture is complete. Keep studying hard to grow in your faith.
Your church is doing well loving each other, but you need to improve in loving others outside the church. Pray as a body about this.
Personally grow in your love toward those who are difficult to love. Love is patient. It is not easily angered. I have placed them in your life to cause you to abound in love.
What will you be found doing when My Son arrives with His saints? I will mature you so you will be ready.