LITTLE FEARS GROW GREAT
God in heaven, I am grateful for your Word, for the freedom that is mine to read it, and for your Holy Spirit, who speaks to my mind and heart through it.
Read 1 THESSALONIANS 3
3 So when we could stand it no longer, we thought it best to be left by ourselves in Athens. 2 We sent Timothy, who is our brother and co-worker in God’s service in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith, 3 so that no one would be unsettled by these trials. For you know quite well that we are destined for them. 4 In fact, when we were with you, we kept telling you that we would be persecuted. And it turned out that way, as you well know. 5 For this reason, when I could stand it no longer, I sent to find out about your faith. I was afraid that in some way the tempter had tempted you and that our labors might have been in vain.
Timothy’s Encouraging Report
6 But Timothy has just now come to us from you and has brought good news about your faith and love. He has told us that you always have pleasant memories of us and that you long to see us, just as we also long to see you. 7 Therefore, brothers and sisters, in all our distress and persecution we were encouraged about you because of your faith. 8 For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord. 9 How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you? 10 Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you again and supply what is lacking in your faith.
11 Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus clear the way for us to come to you. 12 May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. 13 May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectIt’s easy to tell when I’m worried because I start shallow-breathing. Do you have a similar ‘tell’? What is it that makes you anxious? What are you afraid of, or concerned about?
‘Where little fears grow great, great love grows there.’ Thus spoke the Player Queen in Shakespeare’s Hamlet. It is in Paul’s anxiety for the church in Thessalonica that we see the depth of his love.
Paul had spent barely any time in Thessalonica before he was forced to flee. Many had responded quickly and eagerly to the gospel—but what would become of them now? Would they be ‘unsettled’ by their ‘trials’ (v. 3) or ‘tempted’ (v. 5) to take the easy route out of persecution and reject the gospel?
Thankfully, the answer was a resounding ‘No!’ Can you feel Paul’s emotion? When he received a good report from Timothy, he wasn’t simply glad. ‘Now we really live,’ he wrote (v. 8). He’d been ‘worried to death,’ as we might put it today.
Paul wasn’t interested in making converts. He cared about making disciples, people learning to live as followers of Jesus, standing firm in God (v. 8), increasing and overflowing in love (v. 12), made strong, blameless, and holy by God (v. 13).
For Paul, conversion wasn’t the goal. Like putting your boots on, it was simply the beginning of the walk. How has your walk gone since you put your faith boots on?
Holy Spirit, keep me from straying away from the narrow path as I follow Jesus; help me that my faith in him will grow and that my walk with him will be a clear testimony to those around me.
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