1 Thessalonians 3:11-13
Now God himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way to you.…
I. GOD HIMSELF IS THE ONLY GIVER OF ALL GOOD THINGS.
1. He can give the apostle and his converts the great joy of another meeting. The Thessalonians might be zealous in their religious duties; St. Paul might pray exceedingly, above measure; but it is God himself, not any creature, from whom all goodness flows. The word αὐτός ("himself") is emphatic. He only can save; he only is the Giver of joy. He is our God, therefore he is able; he is our Father, therefore he is willing to help us. His is the kingdom and the power and the glory, and he loves us with a Father's love. The apostle adds the Savior's Name: "God our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ." He addresses Christ in the language of direct prayer. He uses, too, a verb in the singular number. There can be no satisfactory explanation of this, save that furnished by our Lord's own words, "I and my Father are one." From him only, the Triune God, cometh every blessing. He can bring St. Paul again to the Thessalonians. He will, if it is good for him and for them.
2. He can increase in them the great grace of charity. Love is the chiefest of all graces; it expels all manner of sin little by little from the heart which it fills; it consumes selfishness little by little with its heavenly fire. It must abound in the Christian's heart, for it is the best of all treasures; it must be fervent, intense, for lukewarmness is hateful to the Lord. It must be wide in its range; for that love which rests on some men because they are agreeable, and excludes others because they do not please, is merely human; not of God - mere natural affection; not the precious grace of holy love. God loved the world; the measure of his love is the gift of his Son. His saints in their poor way must imitate him. He only can make them abound in love; for love is of God, and every one that loveth is born of God and knoweth God. Love is the best gift of the good Spirit of God. We must covet earnestly that great grace, and seek it from him of whose only gift it cometh.
II. GOD CAN FULFILL THE GOOD WORK WHICH HE BEGAN.
1. Holiness comes from him. Without holiness no man shall see the Lord; and it is God the Holy Ghost who sanctifieth the elect people of God. He can cleanse the thoughts of the heart by his Divine inspiration. He can make the soul that was unclean pure and blameless. We must listen to his voice speaking in our hearts. He checks us when we are tempted to sin; he calls us ever onwards to holiness, to self-consecration, to closer union with Christ. It is our part to recognize his awful presence, to shrink with godly fear from grieving the indwelling Spirit, to make silence in our hearts to listen to his voice, to pray with ever-deepening earnestness, "Speak, Lord; for thy servant heareth."
2. He can enable us to persevere. The psalmist says, "O God, my heart is fixed, my heart is fixed." That fixedness, that establishment of the heart in holiness, cometh from God; it is his gift. "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusteth in thee." We need to be rooted and grounded in love, to be strengthened with all might by his Spirit in the inner man. Then we shall persevere unto the end; then we shall be found unblamable in holiness at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints. St. Paul ever looked forward to that second coming; it filled the whole range of his hopes. So ought Christians now to live, "looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God."
1. St. Paul prays that God would direct his way to Thessalonica. We may pray for the great blessing of intercourse with those whom we love; but it must be "in the Lord," in humble submission to his will.
2. But above all things we should pray for their continued growth in grace and holiness, in preparation for the coming of the Lord. - B.C.C.
Parallel VersesKJV: Now God himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way unto you.