“We always have to thank God for you, brothers and sisters.
It’s right to do this because
your faith is showing remarkable growth
and your love for each other is increasing.”
2 Thessalonians 1:3
What do you usually thank God for concerning your spiritual brothers and sisters? What do you look for in them? Often, we focus on ways they have impacted our own lives.
Paul is noting something special in his spiritual family. It does not seem to have anything to with himself personally. He notes two specific characteristics(measurements) he sees growing in their lives in regard to their relationships with God and with each other.
- Their faith is showing remarkable growth;
- Their love for each otheris growing.
He is talking to them as family….as his brothers and sisters. And the growth he notes is combined in the same breath. They go together…..faith growingand growth in loving each other.
How is faithmeasured? It is deeply personal…an internal thing. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faithisconfidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Paul had been seeing this increasing faithin the lives of his spiritual family. How does that look in someone’s life? It is a growing confidence in what we hope for, and growing assurance about what we don’t even see yet. There will be more confidence as we step into the future…more surety with each step forward….not fear that stops us. One will not fear for what is ahead…but rather, hope. There will be a willingness to take the risk, even if other voices are telling us “you can’t.” You will cling more tightly to His Hand as you move forward, trusting Him more with each step. It’s like trusting your GPS to be guiding you to your destination rather than guessing your own route. Except that this GPS is perfect. “God’s Perfect System”
Paul’s other measurement is seeing the lovethat is growing for each other. Whereas faithis more connected to personal relationship with God, LOVE is evident in human relationships. It is very “normal” for there to be challenges when strangers begin to move into relationship. It is significant for Paul to see noticeable love growing between people who were not in relationship before becoming part of the Family of God.
What would Paul note if he had been watching us? What areas of growth would he notice about our faith? What would be the evidence he’d see concerning our love for our spiritual family?