Paul truly loves the Thessalonians. His love for them is evident in his desire to have news from them, to know if they are standing strong in their faith. He wants to know if they are continuing on in what they have learned and persevering in their faith. He is afraid that as a result of the persecution or some temptation that they have fallen away, and so he sends Timothy back from Athens and the pensinsula of Achaia where he has been working to get news from the Thessalonians.
But Timothy has just now come to us from you and has brought good news about your faith and love. He has told us that you always have pleasant memories of us and that you long to see us, just as we also long to see you. Therefore, brothers and sisters, in all our distress and persecution we were encouraged about you because of your faith. For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord. How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you? Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you again and supply what is lacking in your faith.1 Thessalonians 3:6-10
Paul takes great encouragement from Timothy’s report. He is no longer worried, but instead is filled with joy because of what he has heard about how the Thessalonians are continuing in their faith.
I find the sense of love and concern that Paul has for the Thessalonians pretty amazing because of the purity of Paul’s jealousy for their faith. He isn’t receiving a salary from them, certainly nothing that is obligatory that they must pay him while they are believers. He is simply concerned about their spiritual well-being, for its own sake. He truly desires to see the Thessalonians grow in their faith, following Christ because of their own need for a Lord and a Savior, which they have now found in Jesus.
And Paul experiences great joy as a result. He says that now that they have received this report of their perseverance in the faith, they can truly live. Because the Thessalonians continue to stand, they are full of joy in the Lord.
I pray that we, as believers, will experience this same sentiment. That we would find joy in Christ because of the perseverance and success of others. That as others grow in Christ, we are joyful. Not because we are gaining something of worldly value, but simply because they – those that we have taught and led – are going on to continue in their faith, and that we would be jealous for their faith and for their success to continue and grow greatly.