1. It is evident from this epistle that Paul loved his brethren
a. In their presence, he treated them like a nursing mother and exhorted them like a caring father - 1 Thessalonians 2:7,11
b. When absent from them, he longed to see them time and again - 1 Thessalonians 2:17-18
2. His concern for them is also evident as we continue our study of this epistle
a. As we notice his anxiety over their faith - 1 Thessalonians 3:1-5
b. As we read of his joy in hearing of their steadfastness - 1 Thessalonians 3:6-10
3. What of our concern for one another? Are we troubled at all over the spiritual welfare of our brethren? Are we following Paul's example?
A. IMPLIED BY HIS ANXIETY
1. Paul was concerned about how they were holding up under tribulation - 1 Thessalonians 3:1-4
a. He did not want them to be shaken by them
b. He had even warned them when he was still with them
2. Paul was concerned about their faith - 1 Thessalonians 3:5
a. He was afraid that the tempter (Satan) might have tempted them
b. He was fearful that his labor might have been in vain
1) A concern expressed for churches in Galatia - Galatians 4:11
2) A concern expressed for brethren at Philippi - Philippians 2:16
3. Note: if the doctrine "once saved, always saved" were true, why did Paul worry?
B. INSINUATED BY HIS HELP
1. He sent Timothy, at expense to himself - 1 Timothy 3:1-2
a. It meant being left in Athens alone
b. It meant being without the aid of a brother, a minister of God and fellow laborer in the gospel of Christ
2. He sent Timothy for two reasons - 1 Timothy 3:2, 5
a. To establish and encourage them in their faith
b. To learn of the condition of their faith
3. Note again: if the doctrine "once saved, always saved" were true, why the need to hinder the work at Athens by sending Timothy back to Thessalonica?
C. INDICATED BY HIS JOY
1. Timothy had now returned with good news - 1 Timothy 3:6
a. About their faith and love
b. About their good remembrance of Paul
c. About their great desire to see Paul
2. Paul's reaction to this news - 1 Thessalonians 3:7-9
a. Comforted in his own affliction and distress by their faith
b. Made to really live by their steadfastness
c. Rejoicing with thankfulness for their condition before God
D. ILLUSTRATED BY HIS PRAYERS
1. Note the frequency of his prayers for them - 1 Thessalonians 3:10
a. Praying night and day
b. Praying exceedingly
2. Note the content of his prayers for them - 1 Thessalonians 3:10
a. To see their face once again
b. To perfect what is lacking in their faith
E. Paul's concern for his brethren is certainly evidenced by his anxiety, his help, his joy, and his prayers.
A. DO WE HAVE ANY ANXIETY...?
1. Are we concerned about the welfare of our brethren, especially the weak?
2. Have we noticed their absence, does it not trouble us?
3. Do we act as though we believed in the doctrine "once saved, always saved"?
B. DO WE EXTEND ANY HELP...?
1. Have we made an effort to call, write, or in some way contact them?
2. Are we helping by setting a good example with our own service and attendance?
3. Are we doing what we can to establish and encourage them in the faith?
4. Paul was willing to make personal sacrifices to provide help for his brethren, are we?
C. DO WE EXPERIENCE ANY JOY...?
1. Are we moved at all when we see a brother or sister restored to the Lord?
2. Do we have any joy when we see them returned to our midst?
3. Can we say with Paul, "For now we live, if you stand fast in the Lord"?
4. Our reaction to seeing brethren who are weak make an effort reveals much about our level of concern for them
D. DO WE OFFER ANY PRAYERS...?
1. Prayers of thanks when we hear or see evidence of their faithfulness?
2. Prayers to see them and perfect what is lacking in their faith?
3. Paul prayed exceedingly, night and day...how often do we pray for those who are weak or experiencing trials?
1. Much joy comes from seeing the faithfulness and steadfastness of other Christians
a. Paul was comforted in his own afflictions by their faith - 1 Thessalonians 3:7
b. He was "alive" because of their steadfastness - 1 Thessalonians 3:8
c. He was filled with thanksgiving for the joy that came from seeing their faith - 1 Thessalonians 3:9
d. The apostle John could relate to this joy of which Paul wrote - 3 John 1:3-4
2. To experience such joy, we need to have concern for our brethren
a. Enough concern to be anxious over their condition
b. Enough concern to do something about it
c. Perhaps "Paul's Concern For His Brethren" might spark our own concern!
Without concern for our brethren, there is the very real danger of our labor being in vain. May our concern for our brethren be such that when we hear of their faithfulness we too can say: "For now we live, if you stand fast in the Lord." - 1 Thessalonians 3:8
-- Don Treadway, September 2009 --