Friday after the Twelfth Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 3:1-13 (NKJV)
3:1 Therefore, when we could no longer endure it, we thought it good to be left in Athens alone, 2 and sent Timothy, our brother and minister of God, and our fellow laborer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you and encourage you concerning your faith, 3 that no one should be shaken by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that we are appointed to this. 4 For, in fact, we told you before when we were with you that we would suffer tribulation, just as it happened, and you know. 5 For this reason, when I could no longer endure it, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter had tempted you, and our labor might be in vain.
6 But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and brought us good news of your faith and love, and that you always have good remembrance of us, greatly desiring to see us, as we also to see you—7 therefore, brethren, in all our affliction and distress we were comforted concerning you by your faith. 8 For now we live, if you stand fast in the Lord. 9 For what thanks can we render to God for you, for all the joy with which we rejoice for your sake before our God, 10 night and day praying exceedingly that we may see your face and perfect what is lacking in your faith?
11 Now may our God and Father Himself, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way to you. 12 And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you, 13 so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.
For St. Paul, the great difficulty is not his own suffering for the sake of the Gospel, but his concern for the saints. He was worried that as the Church suffered various afflictions, the saints would be tempted. St. Paul therefore explains that this is the reason he sent St. Timothy to the Thessalonians: “For this reason, when I could no longer endure it, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter had tempted you, and our labor might be in vain.” As a faithful servant of Christ Jesus, St. Paul worried for the sake of the salvation of those to whom he had brought the Gospel.
This is still the burden on the hearts of faithful pastors: as they see the troubles and temptations which come to the saints entrusted to their care, the servants of the Word worry about them. In a world filled with distractions, pastors worry that the faithful will be distracted to death, and end up like the seed sown in the midst of thistles. (Matt. 13:22) When they see the faithful stand steadfast in the midst of such temptations, they may say, with St. Paul, “For now we live, if you stand fast in the Lord.”
We pray: Almighty and Merciful God, of whose only gift it comes that Thy faithful people do unto Thee true and laudable service, grant, we beseech Thee, that we may so faithfully serve Thee in this life that we fail not finally to attain Thy heavenly promises; through Jesus Thy Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with Thee and the Holy Ghost, ever one God, world without end.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.