Concern for Each Other
1 Thess. 3:1-5
Concern for each other
Paul is greatly concerned about the believers in Thessalonica. He had only a short time with them and was forced to flee to Berea, then to Athens (Acts 17). His concern for their spiritual well-being is evident in his writing this passage.
We are all in need of encouragement and strengthening at times.
Sometimes we are the ones to do the encouraging or strengthening.
What we learn from this passage is that our concern for others needs to go farther than our own thoughts, but into action.
Paul is beside himself. He can hold out no longer without finding out how these believers are doing.
We need to turn our concern into action.
Lets us see from this passage the motive, character and the message of an encourager in the faith, so that if we are in need we will know what to look for and if we are called to the aid of another we will know how to do it.
I. Pay attention to Your motive,
Paul said, “Therefore, can bear it no longer”
Therefore, refers to the preceding words of Paul. He had expressed his deep attachment to them and his desire to come to see them. Notwithstanding the hinderances of Satan that prohibited his coming to them.
the word “bear it” means To cover, like a roof. In the NT, to cover over in silence. (I) Generally meaning to conceal, with the acc. (1 Cor. 13:7, love hides the faults of others or covers them up). (II) To hold out, forbear, bear with, endure (1 Thess 3:1, 5); with the acc. (1 Cor. 9:12; 13:7).
Paul uses it twice, here and in verse 5 to express his deep concern for those believers.
His goal is for the spiritual well-being and growth of them. He is concerned that the labor he has had among them would be for nought if they give up because of the trials inherent to Christians.
His motive then is two-fold:
1. their spiritual growth, v.2, 3a
2. That he would have news of how they are doing. v.5
Hence, he is willing to sacrifice himself, by staying in Athens and sending Timothy to them on this mission.
We need to have the motive of the spiritual growth of those we encounter as we are called to be encouragers. You cannot force it or rope others into being strengthened and encouraged, but you can know the truth and seek to lead, rather than push to spiritual maturity.
do you know of someone who needs encouragement? Maybe someone who is really going through a tough time and you could comfort, exhort, or in some way through your example and teaching strengthen them? Then seek to act on that with the motive of pleasing God and helping them grow.
II. Pay attention to Your Character,
Paul sends Timothy. Note three traits he mentions about Timothy as they are similar traits we are to demonstrate.
A. Equality of relationship, “our brother”
formerly Paul called him, “my son”. Now he calls him his brother. This signifies close relationship. It signifies position of equality. He was seeking to show honor to Timothy. He may have wanted the Thessalonians to accept Timothy’s credentials so as to lend credibility to his teaching and instruction. But the idea is that Timothy was not a novice, nor a charlatan out to take advantage of the downtrodden. Rather, he was one who was qualified to carry out this ministry of encouragement. Not every believer is so qualified, Heb. 5:11-14.
Make sure you approach one who needs encouragement in a manner not demonstrating that you think you are better than they.
And a mark of how one would encourage you is from a stance of standing on the same ground, rather than speaking down to you as though they are better.
B. Fellow- servant of God
The servant character of one who would come alongside to assist another is paramount in this. timothy had lots of time with Paul to demonstrate his servant attitude. He was willing to go where Paul sent him. He was willing to endure the suffering alongside of Paul. He was willing to put up with the travel hardships. He demonstrated a servant heart in ministry with Paul.
Servant heart is the attitude you want when you serve others. They are not there to serve you but you them. A servant heart shows Christ-likeness because He came “not to be served, but to serve.”
C. Fellow-worker of God in the gospel of Christ.
Note the idea is of labor and toil. Hard work is the key and being a hard worker instead of lazy is a key in being qualified to be an encourager and strengthener in the faith.
Being a believer is hard. It takes discipline. And so Timothy had demonstrated that.
Paul can trust Timothy to do the job he has asked him to do. Can you be trusted to do your job?
God is looking for people whom He can send to another to encourage, but you must be one who is developing this kind of godly character.
finally, if you are going to be used in this type of ministry
III. Pay attention to your message,
Timothy was sent for three reasons:
A. To strengthen-ie. To make hard, to set fast, permanent
(Luke 9:51, “he steadfastly set his face to go”).
Of persons, to make steadfast in mind, confirm, strengthen (Luke 22:32; Rom. 1:11; 16:25; 1 Thess. 3:2, 13; 2 Thess. 2:17; 3:3; James 5:8; 1 Pet. 5:10 ([TR] in the aor. opt., but in later editions stēeríxei [fut. indic. 3d person sing]); 2 Pet. 1:12; Rev. 3:2).
B. To encourage/exhort- thus to come alongside them to spur them on to love and good works. To keep at it despite the trials they faced.
This would be done, by prayer, by teaching of the truth of God’s Word, by his own example in handling suffering. He would hold Bible studies, prayer times etc.
C. to stabilize them, v.3a
not be moved= give up belief, formally, be unsettled, be disturbed (1Th 3:3+)
To wag, to move to and fro as dogs and other animals wag their tails in friendliness. Figuratively, to caress, flatter. In the NT figuratively to move in mind, disturb. In the pass. (1 Thess. 3:3).
Paul did not want the believers to be wavering back and forth like a dogs tail in their faith.
Thus, Paul sends Timothy to Thessalonica to encourage and exhort the believers there not to give in and quit the faith, ie. to move from belief. INstead, he wants them to be strengthened so as to be able to endure the trials they face, and to exhort them to keep on enduring. The former has to do with ability, the latter with the will and desire of the believers who would be tempted by the troubles they have to turn away from the Lord.
D. You will have trouble
Paul had already told them they would have trouble, they were destined for it, it was inevitable. (keimai): vb.; ≡= Str 2749; TDNT 3.654—1. LN 17.26 recline, lay (Mt 28:6; Lk 2:12); 2. LN 85.3 be in adj. place, being contained in, resting on (Mt 5:14; Jn 2:6; 19:29); 3. LN 13.73 exist, with the implication of having been established (Lk 2:34; 1Ti 1:9)
Paul means by this word that he is certain that he would experience tribulation. He was in a sense resting on that truth. It was going to happen. Trouble was their destiny.
they already knew they were destined for trouble.
He doesn't want them to think that their trouble is a result of God's displeasure toward them.
Cf. 2 tim. 3:12 "all who live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution."
Yet storms often come to believers to make them able to stand firm, rather than to blow them away (cf. 2 Cor. 4:15-16).
the New Testament testifies repeatedly that the lot of the Christian is to experience affliction (Matt 10:17–42; Acts 9:16; 14:22; Rom 8:17–18, 35–39; 1 Pet 1:6–7; 4:12–19). Christians are set on the path of following a Savior who suffered at the hands of evil men; therefore they should expect the same treatment that he received.130
In fact, v.4 goes on to say that when he was with them for that brief time, he told them that they would have trouble and they did and they knew all about it. So they could not claim that they were not told they would have trouble. They could not claim they were duped. In fact, they knew before they committed to Christ they would experience trials of all sorts against their newfound faith.
The very fact that “it turned out that way” (i.e., Paul’s prediction came to pass) was a confirmation of the truth of Paul’s message. Persecution then was not to be a cause for falling away from the faith but a reason for adhering to it with even greater tenacity.
Martin, D. M. (2001, c1995). Vol. 33: 1, 2 Thessalonians (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; The New American Commentary (103). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.
Paul’s hope is revealed in v.5
For this reason= He not only sent Timothy to strengthen and exhort them to godly living in their trouble, but he also wanted Timothy to bring back word how they were doing in facing up to the trouble
Paul was anxious to hear how they were doing. He was genuinely concerned for their welfare.
He wanted to know if they were still trusting Christ or if they had turned back to paganism.
My cousin, Nick, told me of His experience in this. He had been in Christian school and trying to follow CHrist, but he had all sorts of troubles. When he went his own way the troubles ceased. He said, "it was easier to not be a christian."
This is exactly what Paul is trying to avoid with these believers.
Paul is calling us to this type of ministry with each other.
have a genuine concern that is demonstrated by action
with the motive of encouraging spiritual growth and stability
So that we will not quit though the way is hard.
remember your motive, your character and your message in carrying out this ministry in our midst.