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pursue and invest in the spiritual development of other believers

Pursue and Invest in the Spiritual Development of Other Believers – Part 1

pursue and invest in the spiritual development of other believers

For what thanks can we render to God again for you, for all the joy wherewith we joy for your sakes before our God; Night and day praying exceedingly that we might see your face, and might perfect that which is lacking in your faith? Now God himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way unto you.” (1 Thessalonians 3:9–11)

In today’s text, the Holy Spirit challenges us to pursue and invest in the spiritual development of other believers. The more I study God’s Word, the more I find it repeating the following principle. We are to love the Lord first. Then, as we learn to love Him, we can learn to love others. We find this principle in Matthew 22.

Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 22:37–40)

As believers, our love must be directed toward God first. I term this as having a vertical relationship with Him. Then, after we establish a love for God, our love is directed to others. For me, that is a horizontal relationship with those around us. As you read and study God’s Word, you will find this repeatedly given in examples and in principle.

Paul’s Example

A prime example is our text for this week. We have discussed Paul’s relationship with the believers in Thessalonica. Sticking with the principle of loving God and loving others, why was Paul in Thessalonica to begin with? Obviously, it was due to this relationship with God. God led him there to preach and teach the gospel. We know about Paul’s encounter with God on the road to Damascus and how it completely changed his life. In this letter, we see Paul’s love for those believers. However, this jumped out at me as I read our text today. Paul’s desire for all believers, including those at Thessalonica, was that their faith in God would grow. Note verse 10 again.

Night and day praying exceedingly that we might see your face, and might perfect that which is lacking in your faith?” (1 Thessalonians 3:10)

In Greek, “might perfect” means equipping or preparing something. To what end was Paul concerned they were not prepared? The answer was their faith. Faith in whom? He was concerned about their faith in God.

I can see the concerns that Paul might have entertained. Perhaps, he was constantly thinking about how much they were growing their faith. Without any doubt, Paul was concerned about the effect tribulation and persecution might have on their faith. He was so bothered by it that he lost sleep over it. Note that he was praying for them “day and night.” As he prayed, he yearned to see them face to face. Planted within was an overwhelming desire to see them so that he might be assured they were growing in their faith.

One of the most significant issues among believers is the lack of concern for others and their spiritual development. It seems that too many believers are too focused on themselves and not investing in others. I admit that, at times, I find myself guilty of the same. We get so caught up in daily seeking to meet our needs and desires that we even forget to pray for others. Perhaps, at the root of this problem, is a deeper issue. Earlier I noted long before Paul had a relationship with the Thessalonicans, he had a relationship with God. Is it possible that our lack of concern for other believers and their daily walk with God is because we lack our own walk with Him?

Going back to Paul’s concern, here is further thought. Paul was not referring to saving faith. Saving faith is that faith by which we believe all that Christ did for us. My point is this. Salvation is totally by God’s grace. Christ himself lived a sinless life becoming the perfect substitute for us and our penalty of sin. It is why His death, burial, and resurrection are the foundation of the gospel. He did it all. Salvation is freely provided because of His unmerited favor to all men. All that is required is simple faith. We must believe.

Our Challenge

In our text, the Holy Spirit speaks through Paul about our daily walk of faith. In other words, now that you are a believer, are you living by believing the principles and promises of God’s Word each day? Each day comes with its challenges. Christ promised that following Him would not be easy. And, as we know, He often chided the disciples for having little faith. Yet, despite the many challenges, we can grow daily in our faith. In the book of James, we read the following.

My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” (James 1:2–4)

Here we see that growing in our walk with the Lord is possible. Yes, there are going to be many challenges. However, we must see those challenges as opportunities for spiritual growth. Each challenge helps us grow in our faith or, as we might say, our relationship with God. Each temptation, trial, or test allows us to develop a little more if we handle them in God’s way. Then, little by little, we are equipped to take on more.

At the top of Paul’s concern for the Thessalonicans was their spiritual growth in their relationship with God. A fear that should be the same for us. We must work at growing closer to the Lord each ourselves. And at the same time, we must unceasingly pray and seek to help other believers grow. With that in mind, what are you doing to grow personally? Are you spending time daily with the Lord and His Word? If not, I suggest you plan that time and work at it. Then, as you grow, look around you and see other believers who need to grow spiritually. Invest your time in them. Pray for them showing them how much you are concerned.