“Therefore, brethren, we were comforted over you in all our affliction and distress by your faith: For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord.”
I Thessalonians 3:7, 8
Earlier in this chapter, Paul spoke of sending Timothy to Thessalonica to find out about their spiritual progress and report back to Paul. Timothy returned with excellent news. The church in Thessalonica was strong, as was their love for Paul. It was about this encouraging report that the words of our text were directed. In a time of “affliction and distress” in Paul’s life, hearing of the spiritual growth of the believers in Thessalonica greatly strengthened the man of God. Paul said to the members of the church in Thessalonica, “we were comforted over you in all our affliction and distress by your faith.” There was nothing that would more encourage the heart of the great missionary than hearing that the church at Thessalonica was standing strong in their love and faith.
His next phrase was, “For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord.” In other words, their steadfastness revived him, giving him comfort and strength. Every sincere Christian worker knows what Paul is writing about. Perhaps nothing can breathe new life into a discouraged servant of the Lord more than seeing spiritual growth and progress in those he works with. Their steadfastness comforts us when we are weary and strengthens us when we are weak. The consistency of God’s people reminds the laborer that our efforts are not in vain. Just seeing the people who are faithful to the house of God and to the work of the Lord is a source of inspiration to the heart of a shepherd or teacher. Trials are an inevitable part of this great work, but the reward of seeing fruit that remains keeps cheering our hearts.
It is highly probable that many Christians do not know what their steadfastness and faithfulness do for their preacher. The ministry is about people. Seeing the Lord work in the lives of people and seeing those people respond to the truth of God’s Word provide the motivation for the man of God to continue. The opposite, of course, is also true. The thing that drains the vitality out of the preacher or missionary more than anything else is seeing the sheep regressing spiritually. We all want to see people come to know the Lord and grow in His grace. You will greatly encourage others “if ye stand fast in the Lord.”