1 Thessalonians 3:7-10
Therefore, brothers, we were comforted over you in all our affliction and distress by your faith:…
The scholar finds his happiness in intellectual exercises, and in accumulating knowledge; the politician in the excitement of debate, and the triumph of principles; the scientist in testing and harmonizing the laws of nature; the merchant in his gains; and the minister in the increase of converts to the truth, and in their consistency and perseverance. Observe:
I. THEIR STEADFASTNESS WAS A SOURCE OF COMFORT.
1. The apostle was comforted in the midst of personal suffering (Acts 18:6). So great was his trouble that the Lord thought it needful to encourage him (Acts 18:9, 10). The bitterness of his afflictions at this time was sweetened by hearing of the constancy of his Thessalonian converts, The faithlessness of the people is a grief to the true minister now: but at last the horror will be theirs.
2. The apostle was comforted concerning their faith. The Church is in danger, and cause of deep anxiety, when its faith wavers.
II. THEIR STEADFASTNESS INTENSIFIED THE PLEASURE OF LIVING. The good news thrilled his soul with new life. For now, whatever else befall — now, in the face of Jewish fury and Gentile scorn — now, amid infirmities, reproaches, necessities, persecutions, distresses and deaths oft — now we live if ye stand fast in the Lord. The relation of the minister to his people is so close and vital that they have it in their power to make his life happy or miserable. There is a method of destroying life without its becoming utterly extinct. To lessen the cheerful flow of life, and depress the spirits of the man of God, is a species of murder: to starve him into submission by studied neglect and privation, is diabolical. The ministerial life and energy of even an apostle depended on the sympathy, faith, and steadfastness of the brethren (John 3:4).
III. THEIR STEADFASTNESS WAS PRODUCTIVE OF GRATEFUL JOY.
1. This joy was copious and sincere: "For the joy wherewith we joy before our God." The transitions of the emotions are rapid. From the midst of the apostle's grief a fountain of joy breaks forth. This joy filled his soul even in the presence of God. It was a pure, sincere, undissembled, overflowing joy, such as God could approve.
2. This joy arose from a disinterested love: "For your sakes." True love gives us an interest in the safety and happiness of others. He who possesses this never lacks joy: if it flows not on his own behalf, it does on behalf of others. Bernard has said, "Of all the motions and affections of the soul, love is the only one we may reciprocate with God: to re-love Him is our happiness: woe, if we answer Him not in some measure of re-loving affection."
3. This joy was expressed in fervent thanksgiving: "What thanks can we render," etc. His gratitude was so great that he could hardly give it expression. The grateful heart prizes blessings that seem to others of small value.
IV. THEIR STEADFASTNESS EXCITED AN EARNEST LONGING TO IMPART ADDITIONAL GOOD.
1. The apostle assiduously prayed for the opportunity of a personal interview: "Night and day," etc. The longer the absence the more eager the desire. The good news of their constancy increased the desire. A love like his could be satisfied only with personal spiritual intercourse. It was not enough simply to write. Voice and manner have a charm of their own. Reading, praying, etc., will be unavailing if we despise prophesying — the oral declaration of the truth.
2. The apostle sought this interview to supply what was lacking in their faith. None are so perfect in faith as not to be susceptible of improvement. Faith is based on knowledge, and as knowledge is capable of indefinite extension, so faith may be continually increased. The less distinctly the great subjects of faith are understood, the more defective is faith. We all have to cry, "Lord, increase our faith."Lessons:
1. The true minister cannot be indifferent to the spiritual state of his people.
2. The fidelity and perseverance of believers is an inspiration and an unspeakable joy to the anxious worker.
3. Faith and practice powerfully react upon each other.
Parallel VersesKJV: Therefore, brethren, we were comforted over you in all our affliction and distress by your faith: