Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13
When Paul preached the Gospel in Thessalonica there was a group of people who formed a mob and they sought Paul to hurt, or possibly kill, him. He and Silas had to sneak out of town by night. (See Acts 17.) One can imagine that he might have some anxiety for these people’s safety and their feelings about him for the trouble they endured because of him. That is why he writes as he does in this passage of giving thanks for them, having heard from Timothy that they were not angry with Paul and that they prayed for him and longed to see him. He too longed to see them and to continue to teach them about God’s salvation in Christ. This passage combines the longing for fellowship which is natural for Christ’s followers with their longing for His return – His second advent.
There is great joy in the fellowship of believers. They share a common hope and desire. The hope is that because Jesus died and rose again their sins are atoned for and they can live forever in the resurrection. The desire is to be with Jesus when He comes again and they can experience being completely blameless and holy. In the meantime Paul prays that the believers’ love for one another will increase and abound.
As we prepare for Christmas we think of Jesus coming as a little baby, but Advent is also about Jesus’ second coming. We rejoice in the first coming because in it Jesus died and rose again for us. Our hearts have been cleansed, and although we do not feel blameless God has declared us to be so. This truth moves us to love God as we have been loved, and to love one another as God has loved us.
The day will come when Jesus will come with all His saints; all the people who have been cleansed by faith and the shedding of His blood. What a day that will be! We have much to be thankful for even before that day comes however. He has given us one another to love and to be loved by, to encourage and so we may receive encouragement, to pray for and for them to pray for us, and to stand before God together because of the hope we have in Jesus.
Lord God, You have placed us in relationship with one another, therefore we pray for one another and love one another as You have loved us. We long for the day when Jesus will return with all His saints.
Thank You for giving us blameless and holy hearts. Thank You for giving us brothers and sisters in Christ. Thank You for the privilege of having people pray for us, and for being able to pray for them.
Please forgive us for not sensing the connection You have made with us and our fellow believers more keenly and for not loving them as deeply as we ought. Forgive us for growing excited about celebrating Jesus’ birth, His first coming, and for not anticipating His second coming.
Send Your Spirit to work in our hearts to help us to love one another as You have loved us. Lead us to pray for one another with passion and love. Help us remember that Jesus is coming again, and to rejoice because of that, longing for the day that we see You face to face when He comes. Amen.