I am loving our summer study of the books of 1 & 2 Thessalonians. If you have missed either of the first two weeks of the series, you can get caught up here.
Part of what I find so compelling about these letters is that the Apostle Paul is writing to people whom he loves dearly, and because he loves them so much, he wants them to grow to maturity in the Lord.
What we have seen in the first chapters of 1 Thessalonians is Paul’s love for the young church manifest in so many different ways: “I love you, I long to be with you.” “I love you; I just had to know how you are doing.” “I love you; we have shared not only the gospel with you but our very lives with you.” And Paul shares another important declaration of love, “I love you; I want something for you. I want you to grow to maturity in Christ.”
Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 3:12-13 these words:
And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we abound in love for you. And may he so strengthen your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.
Paul expresses a concern for the growth of his beloved friends in love and holiness. Paul wants them to continue to grow “more and more” (4:1) in sanctification. That is, Paul wants the young church to know more of God’s love and to grow in an understanding of how God’s love flows through them to make them more and more into the people God desires them to become.
You likely have the same hopes for the people whom you love. You want your children to mature into fully developed, well-adjusted, healthy adults. You want your spouse to grow into his or her vocation and experience satisfaction in the things he or she works at. You want the people in your small group to be liberated from the sin that so easily entangles us and to mature in their walk with Christ. Because we love people, we long for them to increase more and more in love and holiness.
A personal question for us might be: “Do we want it for ourselves?”