Dear brothers and sisters, we can’t help but thank God for you, because your faith is flourishing and your love for one another is growing.2 Thessalonians 1:3 NLT
The church at Thessalonica was not strong and powerful. They did not have a fancy building and dynamic worship team. Much of what we look for in a successful church today, at least in the U.S., was missing in Thessalonica. But they did have something that was much more important. Actually, two things that trumped the external trapping that we often find so important.
First of all, their faith was flourishing. To flourish is to grow abundantly. Their faith was not stagnant, or even slowly growing. Rather it was growing like my lawn in the spring. They were excited about getting to know the Lord more and more intimately. And learning to trust him in every part of their lives.
Secondly, their love for each other was growing. They were not just friendly with each other. But they had a love between them that was growing. That had to mean that they were spending time together, getting to know each other on a deeper and more personal level. And loving each other as God loves us. In spite of their flaws and failings, they loved each other. And they would have been willing to do anything for each other.
A Model for Others
And Paul was thankful for them. Their growing faith and love was a demonstration of their commitment to the Lord. And that Paul’s work among them had not been in vain. Because of their growth in the Lord, Paul was able to uphold them as models of how a church can prosper and endure through the challenging times they might be facing. It makes me wonder. Is the church I am a part of flourishing in faith and growing in love? Am I growing in faith and love? Am I, and the church I serve, a good model for others?