2 Thessalonians 1: 3 & 4
Remember the church in Thessalonica was a fairly young church. Paul and his other missionary companions had to flee due to religious persecution. So, Paul is concerned with how they are doing. He begins this second letter similarly to how he begins the first. He almost always begins on a note of thanks. Look what he is thanking God for: v. 3, “because your faith is growing abundantly…”
I grew up with three brothers and I can remember my mom and dad frequently having us stand up against the door frame to mark out how tall we were, whether we had grown. We had always grown an inch or two. This is what you expect. If children do not grow it is frightening because something is terribly wrong.
We can say this about the Christian life; it is a life of growth. Very Christian grows. If you don’t, something is wrong. Spiritual stagnation and backsliding may account for why a Christian isn’t growing as he should, but every Christian grows to some degree. Paul wrote to the Corinthians concerned with their lack of growth. He calls them babes and carnal. The writer to the Hebrews was concerned about growth. They weren’t exercising mature discernment, so he reprimands them for still drinking milk when they should be eating meat.
How can we know from our Bible that a Christian must grow? At least three ways. First, from its pictures and images of spiritual growth. For example, the agricultural image of an olive tree; a house being built up; a race, running or walking toward a goal.
Second, God commands us to grow. At the end of 2 Peter, he says “Grow in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ”. That is an imperative. God doesn’t command us to do something we cannot do, does He?
Third, when Paul writes to the churches he is looking for growth. In 1 Thessalonians he exhorts them to grow. And now, writing again, he gives thanks for their growth. He saw and heard of their growth. Their faith was growing abundantly.
A Christian grows. He ought to grow and he will grow. This growth can be seen. Isn’t that one of the reasons why we put ourselves under the ministry of the Word? We read our Bibles and come to the worship of God in order to grow. The means of grace, or the habits of grace help us grow. Why do we come to a prayer meeting? Why put ourselves under public preaching and teaching? Because God wants us to grow and we have a desire to grow.
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