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Faith & Inspiration

It's very nice to read the letter to the Thessalonians after wincing through the Galatians' trip to the woodshed. The church plant of mixed Jews and "devout Greeks" and "prominent women" in the Macedonia area of A.D. 50 Europe was doing just fine. We don't see any scolding shoehorned between the layers of praise in salutation and goodbyes, none of that "compliment sandwich" Paul often employed to list his grievances with a church.

What I did notice-three times-is that Paul urged the Thessalonians to keep "increasing" in all the good things they are already doing. Wow! There is increase:

". . . and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you . . ." (3:12).

"Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more (4:1).

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"Now concerning brotherly love, you have no need for anyone to write you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge your, brothers, to do this more and more" (4:9-10).

When it came to the Galatians, Paul had to review the basics, as he did with people who were either stuck in an arrested development phase in some area (1 Corinthians 3:1-4) or in danger of slipping away (Hebrews 5:12-6:12). (To be sure, even Paul's letters of "Remedial Ed" have profundities to mine.).

But not with the Thessalonians. They "got it"-to the point where people in places far away, with no benefit of radio or Twitter, had heard about how much they trusted Jesus. (Can you imagine having faith so great that people in the next county have heard of you? What would faith like that even look like?)

The only thing you can tell people like that is to "increase." The only thing you can do is coach them and get out of the way of their stampede to glory, watching like a proud father (1 Corinthians 4:15). For the crucial thing at this point is for them to not sit on laurels and become complacent. Faith that is not consciously continuing to grow is shrinking. Every moment of the day is a test of that faith (James 1:2-3; 1 Peter 1:7), a new chance to either trust God with something, or not.

Moreover, Jesus promised us life "abundantly" (John 10:10), and we should not stop pursuing till we have the abundance. To settle for a treading-water kind of spiritual existence is not what God had in mind. It is evident that the Thessalonians had a lot of joy, because Paul mentioned their joy several times. Elisha asked for a double portion of the Spirit that was on Elijah, and that should be our holy covetousness, too.

Isn't it wonderful to even know that there is an expected increase for those who already are doing great? There is never an "arriving" in this world. There is the suggestion in Thessalonians that there were more wonders and levels of joy and wisdom and revelation to be had, even above what was theirs in their obedience at that time. There is no end to the Infinite God, but it is fun trying to find it.

Listen to commentaries by Andrée Seu.

Andrée Seu
Andrée Seu

Andrée is the author of three books: Won't Let You Go Unless You Bless Me, Normal Kingdom Business, and We Shall Have Spring Again. Follow Andrée on Twitter @Andreespeterson.

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