1 Thessalonians 3
We were comforted about you through your faith; for now we really live, if you stand firm in the Lord. – Vs 7-8
Paul is obsessed about the condition of their faith. In fact, he mentions it five different times in this chapter. He says he Timothy "to strengthen and encourage" them in their faith. He was anxious to "find out about" their faith, because he feared that Satan might have tempted them to fall away. He rejoiced over the "good news" of their faith and love brought to him by Timothy. Even in his trials and sufferings Paul found comfort through the news of the ongoing faith. They had stood firm. But Paul continued to pray "night and day" that he could see them again and "complete what is lacking" in their faith. Their faith was more than simply a belief in Jesus and His death, burial and resurrection. It was a living, active faith that continued to express itself in the face of persecution, trials, the attacks of the enemy, and sufferings of all kinds. Faith is dynamic, not static. Their faith was being tested and Paul acknowledges that it had deficiencies. It was not complete or finished. It never is this side of heaven. Paul even expresses his desire that their faith "increase" in verse 12. In verse 10, he says that their faith was lacking, but then he says, "may the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another and for all people." The increase refers to their faith. Paul is asking that the Lord Himself cause this to happen so that their faith would grow and be accompanied by a tangible love for one another.
Our faith should be increasing daily. And one of the ways God causes this to happen is through the "heat" of everyday life. People, circumstances, and situations all test our faith. Paul knew that their faith, if weak, would let them down and cause them to give in to the temptation to respond in their flesh instead of faith. They could be tempted to get angry, give up, grow weary, take matters into their own hands, doubt God, and start believing the enemy. But Paul says that they stood firm (Vs 8). They didn't cave in. They grew up in their faith. They grew stronger. Faith tested results in a stronger faith, because it proves the reliability and trustworthiness of God.
It is less a revealing to God of the quality of our faith than it is a revelation to us of the dependability and power of our God. It is the object of our faith that gets proven, not the quality or quantity of our faith. But as we learn to trust Him (faith in action), our faith grows. So let's thank Him for the opportunities masquerading as trials that will show us just how great a God we serve!
Father, thank You for increasing my faith daily by bringing into my life situations, circumstances, and people that test just how much I am leaning on You, how much I trust You, and how dependent I am in Your strength versus mine. Thank You that You regularly prove your faithfulness to me. You have never given me a reason to doubt You. Amen