We sent Timothy…to strengthen and encourage you in your faith. (1 Thessalonians 3:2, NIV)
Our faith is always under fire. This happens in two ways: 1) Trials: “So that no one would be unsettled by these trials” (3:3); or 2) The Tempter: “I was afraid that in some way the tempter might have tempted you and our efforts might have been useless” (3:5).
Aren’t you struck by the love that Paul has for these believers and by the depth of his commitment to them? He is desperate for news: “We wanted to come to you… but Satan stopped us” (2:18). Perhaps Satan incited some plot against Paul’s life or some scandal at Corinth – we don’t know. This was desperately frustrating for Paul: “When we could stand it no longer… we sent Timothy” (3:1).
Paul gives us a model of how to minister to a person whose faith is under fire.
Ministry of presence. “I sent to find out about your faith” (3:5). Timothy asked them, “How is this affecting your faith? What’s happening to your love for Christ? How is this affecting your ability to pray?” This is real pastoral care. He goes. He asks. And he listens.
Ministry of the Word. Paul sent Timothy and he wrote this letter. We can’t write more Scripture for people whose faith is under fire, but we can read and apply the Scripture that has already been written to their lives.
Ministry of prayer. “Night and day we pray most earnestly” (3:10). What a strength it is when someone says, “You’ve been on my mind and on my heart. I’ve been praying for you.”
Who do you know whose faith is under fire? Your calling is to strengthen and encourage them in their faith.