The background to this very warm, tender, loving and reassuring passage is severe suffering and hardship to which Paul and his colleagues were being subjected to. His suffering was a direct result of his ministry for Christ. In 1 Thessalonians 2:14-17 we learn that much of the suffering was occasioned by fellow Jews who were hostile to Jesus Christ, who were part of the movement to crucify Him, and who now wanted to stop the Gentiles from receiving the grace of God.
1 Thessalonians 3:7-9 is the pivotal verse that addresses the base caused of the Apostle’s encouragement, happiness and joy. It was his investment in the souls of men. “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?”
There can be no better investment than in the salvation of the souls of me. He that wins souls is wise is more than a proverb (Proverbs 11:30). He that wins souls I a major investor in the Kingdom of God and the recipient of the highest possible Returns On Investment. This is easy to accept when we consider that the purpose of Jesus’ death in God’ sight, there is no loftier calling. Paul invested in the eternal well-being of the saints at Thessalonica, and now their reported walk with God had become his source of encouragement. We would do well to invest in the souls of men. Like the Apostle Paul, we should, pursuant to the execution of the Great Commission, make Disciples of all men wherever we go. It would be the greatest investment that we could ever make, and will undoubtedly be a source of comfort and consolation to us when we need it most.
The Apostolic Benediction and prayer for those in whom he had invested is a model for the caring concern that we should have for those to whom we minister. 1 Thessalonians 3:12 highlights the first Apostolic prayer – “May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you”.
The second Apostolic prayer is, “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 (1 Thessalonians 3:13).
Both of those prayers address the heart of the source of strength of every Believer in Christ. The first is critical for our Godly life on earth and our relationships with each other. The second is critical for our own personal development as we live a Godly life on earth and prepare to spend an eternity with a thrice-Holy God.
Remember to visit RBC’s Our Daily Bread Devotional today at www.ODB.org