1 Thessalonians 3:7-10
Therefore, brothers, we were comforted over you in all our affliction and distress by your faith:…
It is natural for labourers to look for wages: the minister's best wages is the faith of his people. The apostle's work was laborious and discouraging, but his comfort was the growing faith of the Churches. On this point he was more anxious than about his own safety (ver. 5).
I. THE APOSTLE'S AFFLICTION.
1. The abuse of the world and the devil. This abuse is —
(1) A sure sign of a valid ministry: "If I pleased men I should not be a servant of Christ." Christ sent His servants as sheep in the midst of wolves.
(2) Natural. Satan claims the world as his king dom. When havoc is wrought in it it is not to be expected that he will bear it quietly. The carnal mind which is enmity against God is opposed to the gospel, because it abates human pride, and calls for much humiliation and sacrifice.
2. Non-success in many Christian efforts. The apostles "essayed to go" hither and thither: but the Spirit forbade them. In other places they were rejected; in others all their labour seemed to be in vain. There is no greater grief to a minister than to be hindered, rejected or fruitless.
3. The aboundings of heresy and wickedness. It is impossible to describe the anguish of Lot, who "vexed his righteous soul" on account of the iniquity of Sodom, and equally impossible to describe the pain of God's servants, to whom the honour of Jesus is dear, to hear His name degraded, His faith frittered away, and the work of His Spirit melted down into a little cold water.
4. Personal suffering, whether of a bodily or spiritual character.
II. HIS SOLACE. "Your faith." The minister is comforted by the knowledge —
1. That faith is wrought in his hearers; that his preaching is owned of God to the working of faith in the soul. This faith is not an intellectual assent to his teaching — that would bring him a little glory, no doubt. What he wants is that faith which works not admiration but transformation.
2. That his hearers are living the life of faith; when he witnesses the love which faith works and the purity that faith imparts. A faith that does not make a man love holiness and hate sin will never make the heart fit for Divine inhabitation.
3. That his hearers are growing in faith — in its possession and exercise — in the strength and stature of faith; growing whether in the "child," "young man," or "father"; whether in the "blade, ear, or full corn in the ear."
4. That his hearers have the full assurance of faith.
5. That the stability of their faith is evincing its reality: "not moved with afflictions."
6. That their faith strengthens his own.
Parallel VersesKJV: Therefore, brethren, we were comforted over you in all our affliction and distress by your faith: