Thanking God for His Work in Others (Part 2 of 2)

Like Paul, we can give thanks for the growth in faith and biblical love of each child of God.

November 17, 2021

"We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith growth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth."

2 Thessalonians 1:3

Part 2

Yesterday:  We Are Obliged to Be Thankful
“We are bound … As it is meet.”
Paul shows us his heart when it comes to his gratitude for the Thessalonians. He believes that being thankful for them is his obligation.

“To thank God always for you, brethren.”

 

Today:  Thanksgiving for Their Growth

We thank God for you always.  And that’s what we should do because you give us good reason to be thankful: Your faith is growing more and more.  And the love that every one of you has for each other is also growing” (2 Thessalonians 1:3, HSB [1]).

Paul was not shy to share his reasons for his thankfulness for his brothers and sisters in Christ, the Thessalonians.

 

“Because that your faith groweth exceedingly.”
When Paul met them, these Thessalonians were pagans, believing in other gods not knowing the God of the Scriptures.  They had “turned to God from idols” (1 Thessalonians 1:9), and now their faith in Christ could be seen by all.  These believers had become men and women of faith, and their faith is growing.

The word Paul chose for growth here means “to increase beyond measure… to grow exceedingly” (Thayer).  This is the only place in the New Testament where this word was used.

“The word [the Greek term] … signifies to grow luxuriantly, as a good and healthy tree planted in a good soil;  and if a fruit tree, bearing an abundance of fruit to compensate the labor of the husbandman” [2] (Clarke).

Their faith grew like this –

“And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither, and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper” (Psalm 1:3).

Please take note that Paul mentions two areas of growth in the Thessalonians specifically.
First is their growth in faith.  The simple truth is –

But without faith, it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).

“Faith is one of the seeds of the kingdom; this the apostle had sowed and watered, and God gave an abundant increase.  Their faith was multiplied, and their love abounded; and this was not the case with some distinguished characters only, it was the case with every one of them” [3] (Clarke).

What a joy it is to watch believers who are growing in their faith.  But it is sad to see believers whose growth in faith has stopped!  God is pleased when our faith continues to grow until we see Him.  What does it mean to grow in faith?

“The faith of Christians should keep growing all their lives; they should trust God more consistently and more extensively as they grow older in Christ.  Faith in God is not a static thing.  Since it is trust in a Person, it is always increasing or decreasing.  A growing faith indicates a growing Christian” [4] (BKC).

May we continue our growth in faith as well.

And Paul points out the Thessalonians’ second area of growth.  That is growth in love.

 

“And the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth.”

“Not only were the Thessalonians’ relationships with God developing, but so were their relationships with other people.  Genuine faith in God is always accompanied by love for others (James 2:14–17).  Faith is the root; love is the fruit.  The Thessalonians’ love … for each other kept increasing….” [5] (BKC).

Paul and others have been praying for their growth, and God has answered their prayer.

And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you” (1 Thessalonians 3:12).

And now, their love for each other is clear to everyone.

“The Charity of Everyone of You”

Paul credits each of the Thessalonian believers with growing in biblical love.

“In this fundamental quality of Love, the Thessalonian Church excelled;  see 1 Thessalonians 4:9-10 —where the Apostle, acknowledging their excellence, had exhorted them to ‘abound yet more in love.’  This they are doing, and he is ‘bound to thank God’ for it” [6] (CB).

“Both faith and love were growing like well-fertilized plants, beyond what would have been normally expected. This was an exceptional church” [7] (BKC).

Dear believing friends, the Christian life is about honoring Jesus Christ by growing in our faith in Him and in our love for Christ and others.  When we see these traits and God’s children, we ought to be thankful for their growth.  And in this, I am reminded when I see this kind of growth in my children and grandchildren. I need to rejoice and be thankful for what God is doing in their lives as well.  Let’s be grateful for all our brothers and sisters striving to live right and grow in Christ.

 

Quote:  “Their love was not an unpractical sentiment, a vague desire for the welfare of persons they had never seen, but it was a genuine and generous affection, a hearty and kindly and helpful goodwill towards the people of their own church, society, and households.  The church to which an apostle can bear such testimony is to be congratulated” [8] (PNT).

 

 

[1] HSB is the Harvest Study Bible from Harvest Ministries in Guam.
[2] Adam Clarke, Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible, the electronic version in eSword.  2 Thessalonians 1:3.
[3] Adam Clarke, ibid.
[4] BKC, Constable, T. L. (1985).  2 Thessalonians.  In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, pp. 714–715).  Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.  The emphasis is theirs.
[5] BKC, ibid.  The emphasis is theirs.
[6] CB is the Cambridge Bible, the electronic Bible notes in eSword.  2 Thessalonians 1:3.
[7] BKC, ibid.  The emphasis is theirs.
[8] PNT is the Popular New Testament, A Popular Commentary on the New Testament, the electronic version in eSword.  2 Thessalonians 1:3.