1 Thessalonians 3:7-10
Therefore, brothers, we were comforted over you in all our affliction and distress by your faith:…
Ministers who are really sent of God greatly rejoice in the spiritual prosperity of their people. If they see God's word prosper they prosper. On the other hand it is like death to them if God does not bless His word. They get depressed, and say, "Who hath believed our report."
I. SOME ARE NOT IN THE LORD AT ALL.
1. A solid mass of infidelity and godlessness hems as in. Our heart is heavy because the city shuts its eyes to the light.
2. Our greater sorrow is that there are many who hear the gospel and are not in the Lord. Some of you contribute to God's work, and are in many points excellent, but you lack the one thing needful, and after having joined with God's people in outward acts of devotion are in danger of being driven from His presence forever.
3. If there be a deadening influence about the thought that some amongst us are not converted, think of what the effect must be upon a minister's mind who has laboured long and seen no fruit. There may be instances in which a man has been faithful but not successful. Then the soil breaks the ploughshare, and the weary ox is ready to faint. Are you working for Jesus? Then you know what it is to feel the shadow of death when you do not win a soul.
II. THERE ARE SOME WHO PROFESS TO BE IN CHRIST BUT ARE CERTAINLY NOT STANDING FAST. This is a Marah — a bitter well.
1. There are many over whom we rejoice who, nevertheless, apostatize. They run well, and begin in the Spirit, but by and by attempt to be made perfect in the flesh. Oh, foolish ones, who hath bewitched you? We can never be sufficiently grateful to our Lord for allowing a Judas to be among the twelve, for thus He bore Himself what has been to His servants the most crushing of griefs.
2. Many do not believe in such a way that we could remove their names from the Church roll; but they decline in grace. Too many grow worldly, and it is especially the case when they grow wealthy.
3. Others whom we look upon as likely to become leaders and helpers are diverted from the work of God. We do not now expect to see them at a prayer meeting, etc., for they are careless about the salvation of souls. They were once full of zeal, but are now neither cold nor hot.
4. Some are always shifting their doctrinal positions.
5. Some are not steadfast in their service of Christ.
6. We stand fast in the Lord if the Lord keeps you true in the matter of holy conversation. I call that holiness which minds its work at home, which makes a kind father, an obedient child, an honest tradesman, etc. But when men turn round and fling in our teeth, "These are your Christians," then down goes our spirit, and we wish we could die.
7. Unless men are steadfast the Church is weakened. The strength of any Church must be the aggregate of the strength of all its members; therefore, if you have a set of weak brethren you multiply the weakness of each by the number of the membership. What a hospital is the result!
8. The minister is disappointed of his reasonable expectations when men do not stand fast. He is like a farmer who sees the seed grow, but just when it is about to yield him a crop he spies out black smut, and his wheat is blighted. He may well weep that it went so far and yet failed so utterly. Judge ye mothers what it is to nurse your children till they are. near manhood, and then to see them sink into the grave.
III. THERE ARE SOME WHO ARE IN THE LORD AND STAND FAST IN THE LORD, AND THESE ARE OUR LIFE.
1. Because their holy life fills us with living confidence.
(1) In the reality of Christianity.
(2) In the keeping power of God.
2. By stimulating us to greater exertion. We are able to speak many things which could never have been spoken, and to point to such and say, "See what God hath done."
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Therefore, brethren, we were comforted over you in all our affliction and distress by your faith: