Praying for the Success of Others
1 Thess. 3:6-10
Praying for the Success of others
Paul had been anxious to hear how the believers in Thessalonica were doing. He had sent Timothy to help them remain firm in the faith. The last thing on his mind was that they had turned away from Christ. He was greatly encouraged when he finally heard from Timothy the report of how they were doing spiritually.
In response to his report Paul quickly wrote a letter to tell them of his joy at hearing they were doing so well in the faith. This letter is that response.
All of us should be concerned about the spiritual well-being and growth of other believers, especially each other. We should rejoice in it, be committed to it, and pray for it as Paul does here.
I. Rejoice in the growth of others, v.6
A. He uses the word preach the gospel, euangelisamenou, good news to express his joy. Hearing of their continued faith and love was like hearing the gospel to Paul. It was good news.
It ought to be for us as well.
I love to hear from people that I have had a part in their spiritual growth over the years to hear that they are doing good and still following the Lord.
John said it was good to hear that his children were walking in the truth or with the Lord. 2 John 4.
They had demonstrated their faith in God, and love for the brethren, especially Paul whom they desired to see. With all the slander and false accusations going around about Paul these believers refused to believe it and still longed to see Paul again, as he did them.
B. He was comforted/encouraged, v.7
In the midst of his own suffering and distress he was encouraged to keep enduring because of their own demonstration of steadfast faith in the face of their trials.
In fact, this is the main statement in the entire section.
He had not wanted them to be shaken in their faith, v.3. They weren’t. That helped him to keep on doing his job.
Seeing someone else endure hardship can spur us on to do the same.
John Greenwood, 16 yr old, fifer, wanted to join the Continental army. After hearing about the battles at Lexington and Concord in May 1775 he lit out for Boston. On his way he passed by the wounded and dead from the battle at Bunker Hill. ‘everywhere the greatest terror and confusion began to be spread.” He began to be scared and terrified. Terrified, he wished he had never enlisted. “I could positively feel my hair stand on end.” but then a lone soldier coming down the road . . ‘a negro man, wounded in the back of his neck, passed me and, his collar being open and he not having anything on except his shirt and trousers, I saw the wound quite plainly and the blood running down his back. I asked him if it hurt him much as he did not seem to mind it. He said no, that he was only to get a plaster put on it and meant to return. You cannot conceive what encouragement this immediately gave me. I began to feel brave and like a soldier from that moment and fear never troubled me afterward during the whole war.” (McCullough, 1776, p.35, 36).
That is the kind of encouragement that comes to us as we see others suffer willingly for the faith and still be steadfast for Christ. We to can then feel brave and like a soldier of Christ and never fear trouble again.
Paul rejoiced in the growth of others. So can we.
II. Be committed to the growth of others, v.7,8
This is Paul’s response, encouragement.
But he also expressed commitment.
He said, “now we live” this is hyperbole. He was expressing his overjoy at their strong faith. It is like saying to your spouse, “I could not live without you.’ It is an expression of commitment. Or like saying “now we can get through this”
don’t misunderstand, he wasn’t saying that his life depended on their faithfulness to the Lord. It was an expression showing his intense desire for them and his commitment to help them grow in the Lord.
He was their spiritual father. In the midst of his thanksgiving to God for their growth, this is certainly an appropriate place to express his great joy with regards to their lives.
And so it must be with us.
Do you long to see others grow spiritually?
May I challenge you to ask others about their spiritual walk rather than the weather after church? Or to get together with others for prayer and connection as to each others walk with the Lord?
III. Pray for their growth, v.9,10
This actually picks up where Paul began in 1:2 and 2:13. Only now he actually makes a request.
A. Expression of Thanksgiving and praise to God
First, Paul can’t return enough thanks to God for their growth. It is God who works in their lives for growth. He is the one who has enabled them to endure.
He uses a term of indebtedness when he states, render. He is indebted to God to return thanks to Him, not the THessalonians for their faith.
Second, he is over joyed, for he says “we rejoice with the all joy because of you”.
Third, he praises God when he mentions “before our God.” it is like coming into the presence of God to express thanksgiving and praise to Him for enabling the Thessalonians to remain steadfast in the Lord even though they were undergoing extreme sacrifice for their faith.
But Paul then
B. Expresses his request, v.10
We see here that his prayer is consistent, night and day.
It is intense, exceedingly.
It is two-fold:
1. that they would see each other again face to face
2. that he would have opportunity to mend or complete what was lacking in their faith.
There were things lacking, as seen in chapters 4 and 5. But
The word perfect is a word that refers to mending of nets in Mark. Thus, repairing what was broken thus restoring it to its intended use. It can also be used to complete or equip as it is in Eph. 4:12 for the equipping of the saints.
The word lack refers to what is a deficiency or inadequacy. The Thessalonians had some in terms of their understanding of the resurrection and the Lord’s coming, 4:13-18.
So that should be our prayer for others on a regular basis. cf. 1:12; or Col. 1:9-14, Eph. 1:15-20.
Be involved in the lives of others rejoicing in their growth, being committed to helping them grow and praying for their growth on a regular basis.
Get involved in prayer and Bible studies with one other person in the next month. regularly ask them about their growth. encourage them to keep praying and growing in Christ.