WHAT MATTERS MOST
1 THESSALONIANS 3:6-8 NKJ
6 But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and brought us good news of your faith and love, and that you always have good remembrance of us, greatly desiring to see us, as we also to see you— 7 therefore, brethren, in all our affliction and distress we were comforted concerning you by your faith. 8 For now we live, if you stand fast in the Lord.
This chapter has to be explained in order to grasp these three verses for today.
The church at Thessalonica was having to face persecution from their neighbors. Turning to the one true God did not typically set well in a pagan society. Paul sent Timothy to them to help establish the church and encourage the church regarding their faith. He had told them they would have to face tribulation, trouble, and pressure, but he did not want them shaken by it. He did not want them disturbed and moved off course. So now, in verse six, Timothy has returned and brought back news. Was it news that all the trouble was over? No, the news was that these believers were walking in faith and love and wanted to see Paul.
Paul found comfort in this news. He was having to face a great deal of distressing situations himself, yet he was comforted by their faith. Verse eight is the summation of Paul's comfort that these believers were standing fast in the Lord. What mattered most to Paul was that they continued to live with God and did not turn back to their old life.
Paul could have written that he was praying fervently that the pressure they were facing would let up. He could have prayed that they were happy. But that's not what mattered most to Paul. Their faith in God and in the Lord Jesus Christ was most important to him. That these young believers would continue to stay committed to the Lord despite the pressure. Paul was not as concerned that the pressure would let up. He was concerned that their faith would let up.
I can understand some of what Paul was feeling towards the church in Thessalonica. As a pastor, I watch as people come to the Lord. I want them to have a great life and be successful, but even more, I want them to stay faithful to the Lord. When people drop out of church and drift away from the Lord, it disturbs me. When people go through tough times and abandon their faith, it's a sad day. I understand what Paul meant when he said, "now we live if you stand fast in the Lord." That's what matters most.
Dear Father, my faith and hope are in You. Regardless what I face, I know You will help me and bring me through. My heart is to stand before You having finished my race and kept the faith.