God, please use us to encourage others so they will live lives that please You. Thank You for the joy we can have when we see others following You. Give us more and more joy! In Jesus’ name, amen.
Read 1 Thessalonians 3-4
How should an ambassador of the gospel care for the spiritual well-being of others? Paul tells us in 1 Thessalonians 3–4.
We also learn in this section why Paul is writing this letter. Though he was forced to leave the Thessalonians, he longed to see how they were doing. He missed them. So he sent his fellow worker Timothy to visit them and encourage them. After learning the Thessalonians were doing well, Timothy returned to Paul with a positive report (3:6), and thus, Paul sent this letter to thank and instruct them.
1 Thessalonians 3-4 Paul still writes about his own life and ministry but he also gives particular instructions that he was unable to give in person due to his time in Thessalonica having been cut short.
- Timothy’s journey and report (3:1–6)
- Paul’s response and prayers (3:7–13)
- Instructions on how to please God (4:1–11)
- Instructions on Christ’s return (4:12–18)
Note again how Paul’s emotions are tied to the spiritual well-being of the Thessalonians. He is anxious about them when he doesn’t know how they are spiritually. But, when he hears they’re standing firm in their faith, he rejoices and is glad.
See also how Paul desires to see them grow up in the faith. He is not content with them only being converts. After all, Paul follows Christ’s commands to teach others to obey everything He had commanded them (Matthew 28:20). Paul aimed to see these Thessalonian disciples attain Christian maturity, whether that was in their daily lives, their loves, or their hopes.
1 Thessalonians 3:12-13
12 And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, 13 so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.
- Notice that Paul and Silas were so concerned about the Thessalonians’ welfare they couldn’t stand not hearing from them. So they sent Timothy to find out how they were. And the good report lifted their spirits in spite of their immediate difficult circumstances. Similarly, find ways to take joy in other’s faithfulness. Your faithful walk might also encourage others. Have you told others how their faithfulness encourages you? You should tell them.
- Paul thanks God for the joy he has because of the faithfulness of the Thessalonians. He prays and desires to be able to help them grow spiritually. Paul’s prayers for them in 3:12–13 are for their love to grow and for their hearts to be strengthened. As you read, notice what Paul prays for the other churches.
- Paul encourages them to live in order to please God (4:1–12). Review what he lists there, asking yourself how you are doing in those different areas. How can you help others grow in living that way? Note: If we are in Christ, God is finally pleased with us because we have His righteousness. However, the way we live in this world can grieve Him if we disobey (Ephesians 4:30).
- A proper view of the future (4:13–18) is important, and believers should encourage one another with the truth that they will all be together with the Lord one day. Encouraging others with this truth will help us live lives that please God, especially as we endure hardship.
- Paul calls the Thessalonian church a “model” to others. What made them a model? Write down what Paul commends them for.
Choose one of the following:
- Thank God for the faith of fellow believers (3:7). Consider how God has saved them, and how He is preserving and sanctifying them.
- Assess your life to see if it’s pleasing to God. Are you living a holy life? Do you love the saints? Are you a faithful worker at work whose life commends the gospel? How can you grow in such a way to please Him?
- Help a fellow believer grow in their faith so they might please God. How can you encourage them? What areas can they grow in? Ask them if they have any thoughts. What might you do to help them? How might you pray for them?
- Write out your 5-minute testimony. Use the testimony guide below to help you if you want. Share with your Deepen Discipleship group this week. Ask for feedback from others and learn from one another. [Making Disciples]
This guide describes elements of sharing your testimony.
The great advantage of giving your testimony is that no one can deny the experience you describe. Also, its personal nature makes Jesus relevant to your daily life. When giving your testimony, you may want to include the following elements:
- Your life before you became a believer.
- You may want to mention specific elements of your life before becoming a believer, such as: a personal need, emptiness, lack of peace, hopelessness, suicidal thoughts, relational problems, family problems, fear, anxiety, guilt, public failure, shame, etc.
- How God has spoken to you.
- This may have been in a life crisis, a sermon or scripture passage, a dream or vision, through a friend, or an event.
- Perhaps you became painfully aware of sin. If you can communicate this in relation to a “shameful” event (where your sin or fault became known) this will be very effective, since many international cultures are shame based.
- What happened when you first believed.
- Which scripture was meaningful?
- What did you do?
- What did you pray?
- What did you come to believe?
- How did you feel?
- Your life since that time.
- What has it meant to be a follower of Jesus?
- How has God spoken to you since then (through events, other people, scripture)?
- How has God brought you through difficulties?
- How has He solved or changed the problems you had before Christ?
- Be sure to paint an accurate picture of the good and the difficult.
- Internal differences.
- How do you know God has spoken to you?
- Is there a desire to do right that wasn’t there before?
- How do you know your prayers are heard?
- Where possible, include the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus in your testimony.
- Also mention how you trusted in Him alone, before you performed any works, for salvation.
- This is a radical thought with Muslims, because Islam is entirely works based.