Both testaments of God’s Word emphasize a two-fold focus for the spiritual life that involves loving God and loving one another. This two-fold focus is the emphasis of Paul’s remarks to the Thessalonians in chapter 3 of his first letter to them.
So how would you evaluate your love for God and your love for one another? Do you ever wonder if you will be able to continue loving God and continue loving one another up to the end of your earthly life, or up to the return of Christ?
When Paul wondered about the faith of the Thessalonians he sent Timothy to establish and encourage them (3:3,13). Paul did this because he wanted to know how they were responding to the persecution and distressing circumstances of life.
What Paul discovered brought unspeakable joy to his own life. According to Timothy, they loved God and they loved one another (3:6-10). So as Paul writes to them he takes a panoramic view of their faith from beginning (3:1-5), during persecution (3:6-10), and up to the return of Christ (3:1-13).
As he does this with the Thessalonians, he reminds us that although our faith, like the Thessalonians, will be tested, God will use people like Timothy to establish us. (3:2). In addition, God will use our love for God and love for one another as a source of joy to others watching us in the midst of difficulty (3:7).
And most importantly, Paul’s final remarks in 3:11-13 remind us that the Lord God is ultimately the establisher of our faith who works in us to increase our love for one another so that we will reach the goal of being established blameless at His return.
Paul’s focus on the return of Christ reminds us that from beginning to end God will establish us blameless in holiness. May God help us to love Him and to love one another as we await His return for us.