by Jimmy Lau, Lin Ah Pin Road church of Christ
2Thess 1:3 We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth.
What I love about the Thessalonian church is their faith, hope, and love. Paul commended the Thessalonian church for their faith, hope, and love in his first letter addressed to them (1 Thessalonians 1:3). Again, in this second letter to them, he praised them for the same thing: “We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth” (v.3).
You will ask me: “I see faith and love (charity) in that verse; where is hope mentioned?” It is found from verse 4 to 12. The word “patience” refers to the same “patience of hope” in 1 Thessalonians 1:3. The remaining verses in this chapter have reference to their patience in waiting for the coming of Jesus Christ. They looked forward to the Second Coming of Christ; it was their hope. The church at Thessalonica provides us valuable lessons concerning a healthy church.
A healthy church has increasing faith in God (v.3)
Take away faith and the church is just a body of people coming together for fun. Paul says the Thessalonian church’s faith “growth exceedingly”. They were not just a group of people coming together to enjoy each other’s company; they were together because of their faith. And their faith grew abundantly as the days progressed. Is your faith growing? Is the church which you are a member of known for her faith? Some churches are known for their many fellowship activities. A healthy church is known for her faith.
A healthy church has love for one another (v.3).
The Thessalonian church also abounded in love for one another. It was a loving church. I can imagine in that church everyone is taking care of each other and speaking well of each other. There is no mention of strife in the Thessalonian church. They were united in one mind and one love. Do you consider yourself a loving person? Do you love all the brethren in the church? Is the church in which you are a member of known for her love? A healthy church has all her members showing love for one another.
A healthy church perseveres in the midst of difficult trials (v.4).
It is easy to profess faith when everything is going well. The Thessalonian church was patient and faithful in the midst of persecutions and tribulations. Trials reveal whether one has true faith. The faithless will quit when persecutions and afflictions come to them. But the true children of God persevere in the midst of difficult trials.
A healthy church never loses sight of the eternal hope (v.4).
The Thessalonian church looked forward to the second coming of Christ. Daily, they waited patiently for Christ to come. The second coming of Christ means believers will be received up to heaven. Why are we in the church in the first place? Because we want to go to heaven! Yet, do we think of heaven each day? When Christians lose sight of the heavenly hope, the church becomes a society. Perhaps it is because of my age, I am thinking of heaven more frequently than before. Heaven is our hope. When we lose sight of the heavenly hope, our faith will die with it too. Our faith is in the hope and hope is the reason we remain in the faith. Faith, hope, and love – they are the most important ingredients for success for the Christian and for any church. Remove any one of those items, and the Christian, or even the church, is dead. Faith, Hope, and Love – may we always have them.