World English Bible translation
3:6But when Timothy came just now to us from you, and brought us glad news of your faith and love, and that you have good memories of us always, longing to see us, even as we also long to see you; 3:7 for this cause, brothers, we were comforted over you in all our distress and affliction through your faith. 3:8 For now we live, if you stand fast in the Lord. 3:9 For what thanksgiving can we render again to God for you, for all the joy with which we rejoice for your sakes before our God; 3:10 night and day praying exceedingly that we may see your face, and may perfect that which is lacking in your faith? 3:11 Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way to you; 3:12 and the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we also do toward you, 3:13 to the end he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.
"We were comforted … through your faith." These were the apostles' words after hearing the news that Timothy brings from Thessalonica. The faith and love that the Thessalonians have for each other and for the apostles is the best news that Paul could have hoped for. The Thessalonians were growing and maturing in spite of the trials that they had had to endure. There was a good chance that because they had been tested and passed through that they would continue in their faith.
"For now we live, if you stand fast in the Lord." In any translation or language these are beautiful words. Our lives are truly worthwhile and complete knowing that you continue to hold to your faith in the Lord. And, all the more, the news makes Paul want to be with them. The joyous news allows him to set aside his anxiety and think of all the other things that he has to tell them. There is so much more that he has to share. He wants to "perfect that which is lacking in your faith." In this sense, the word perfect means to make complete. He wants to give them everything that he knows.
Their prayer, to God AND to the Lord Jesus Christ (yet another example of apostolic prayer directed to the person of Jesus) is that They will hasten the day when the apostles will be with the Thessalonians in person. This is a very interesting prayer that the apostles have included here to complete this portion of the letter. They ask the Lord to do two things that will accomplish one other thing.
First, they ask God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ to help them to return to Thessalonica. This is a desire that they had just finished expressing and we can understand its motivation.
Second, they ask that the Lord (using the same title in the Greek as well) "make you to increase and abound in love…" Lord, put your love into their hearts so that they love each other and all men just as much as we love them right now. That's Paul's prayer for the Thessalonians. Fill them with love, make them to increase and abound. Make them overflow with your love until it spills out on everyone they know.
SO THAT … to the end that ... "he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father…" Paul and the apostles know that those filled with the love of Christ will be in the last judgment found blameless. They will be found holy and join with the saints that will serve the Lord throughout the ages.
But don't miss to whom the prayer is directed and what action is being requested. The prayer is directed to God and the Lord Jesus and the action that is being requested is that Christ take action. Lord Jesus, in your grace and mercy, please do this.
Here is a model for Christian prayer. Lord, do this, for I cannot. Lord, you fill my heart with love, for I cannot summon it up myself. You strengthen me and hold me up so that in the final day I might pass the test. "Here's my heart Lord, take and seal it. Seal it for thy courts above."
And, this prayer the Lord Jesus Christ will answer. If we are willing to cast our whole fate on Him, He WILL DO IT. He is the only one who can. You might try to love all men between this day and your last, but in the end you will not be found blameless. Only those whom the Lord has made to increase and abound in love will be found blameless. Only His love is holy. Allow Him to fill you with it today.
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