1 Thessalonians 3:11-13
Now God himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way to you.…
I. THIS PRAYER RECOGNIZES THE ESSENTIAL ONENESS OF THE FATHER AND THE SON.
1. Christ is invoked equally with the Father. The word "Himself stands foremost in the sentence and refers to both persons, as if the writer said, May our God and Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, Himself direct our way unto you." It should be also noted that the verb "direct," belonging to both persons, is in the singular number. This fact was urged as an important point by in the great Arian controversy. As the Son partakes equally with the Father in the honour of invocation, so also in excellency of nature. Divine properties are also ascribed to the Son in overruling by His providence the affairs of men. "What things soever the Father doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise."
2. It is the privilege of the believer to realize a personal interest in the Father and in the Son. By an act of appropriating faith we can say, God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. Similar phrases occur no less than twenty-six times in these two Epistles. Blessed confidence! What a wealth of tenderness, satisfying assurance, and joyous triumph is involved in my God! my Saviour!
II. THIS IS A PRAYER FOR PROVIDENTIAL GUIDANCE IN SECURING A MUCH DESIRED INTERVIEW. "Direct our way unto you." Hitherto the way had been blocked up. The brethren there were as eager to welcome Paul as he was to be present; but Satan had hindered. Nevertheless, let God give the signal and all impediments would vanish. God should be recognized in the simplest affairs of life. "It is not in man that walketh to direct his steps;" and only those journeys are prosperous wherein God is pilot. There are crises in life when everything depends on being guided in the right way — e.g., in selecting a school or college, entering on the religious life, commencing business, contemplating marriage, or in change of residence. In these and all other matters acknowledge God, and He shall direct thy paths. Our prayer for guidance must ever be in submission to the Divine will. The apostle's prayer was not answered immediately; five years elapsed before he again visited Macedonia. That path is safest and best in which God's finger points. Let His call be our loadstar: His hand the cloud, to move or pause as He directs.
III. THIS IS A PRAYER FOR THE BESTOWAL OF AN INCREASED MEASURE OF THE HIGHEST CHRISTIAN AFFECTION.
1. Christian love is progressive and mutual. "And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another." Love is the badge of the genuine Christian. He cannot have too much of it — the more the better. It grows with all other graces, and causes them to grow. There is no limit to its expansion but our finiteness. But love must be mutual "one toward another." "For this is the message," says St. John, "that ye heard from the beginning, that ye should love one another;" and, "Seeing ye have purified your souls see that ye love one another," urges St. Peter.
2. Christian love is unselfish. "And toward all men." The old law declared "Thou shall love thy neighbour as thyself." And the New Testament reiterates the truth, that charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned is the fulfilling of the royal law.
3. Here we have Christian love practically exemplified. "Even as we do towards you." Paul and his co-labourers had given unmistakable evidence of their love (1 Thessalonians 2:8, 9, 13; 1 Thessalonians 3:3-5). Love is the soul of self-sacrifice. Ministers should exemplify in their own lives what they prescribe to others.
IV. THIS IS A PRAYER FOR CONFIRMATION IN A STATE OF UNBLAMABLE PERSONAL PURITY.
1. There is no stability in Christian graces apart from love. "To the end he may stablish your hearts." If it were possible to possess every other grace but love, it would be like a varied summer landscape, beautiful but transient. Above all other graces we are exhorted to "put on charity which is the bond of perfectness" — a girdle which adorns and binds together all the rest. Love is the fulfilling of the law, the infallible test and evidence of stability.
2. An unblamable holiness is the legitimate and necessary outcome of love. "To the end He may stablish," etc. Paul prays for an increase of love in order to the attainment of a higher personal purity. All defects in obedience issue from a defect in love. Our love of God makes us solicitous to know and obey Him, and fearful to offend Him. Our love of man makes us careful to preserve his honour, life and possessions, and in no way to impair his happiness. The whole law is love. There is no duty to which it does not incline; no sin from which it does not restrain.
3. Holiness screens the soul from Divine censure at the second advent (ver. 10). He who remains steadfast shall be blameless then. That holiness alone is genuine which will bear the scrutiny of Omniscience.Lessons:
1. Recognize God in every event of life.
2. To attain purity pray for love.
3. Act in all things so as to secure the Divine approval.
Parallel VersesKJV: Now God himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way unto you.