We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing.
There are many things that cause us to be thankful for those who are sharing life with us. Kindness. Equity. Generosity. Sincerity. We cherish these qualities in others and especially in those of the family of faith. We speak highly of those who are givers. We are uplifted regularly by those who are encouragers. All of these qualities in the follower of Christ generate thankfulness in the hearts of those they encounter.
In the nuclear family realm, what makes a parent more grateful than to see their children obedient, self-sustaining, hard working, wise and consistent? We take great joy to see our children stand on their own two feet and provide richly for themselves and their family. We love to see our kids grow up and become solid members of society and church. These are good things and good measures which make us grateful.
All of these measures for gratefulness are good things and fine qualities. They make for good citizens and great children. Yet, once again we see the Bible elevating what is of most importance in the lives of believers regarding thankfulness. Paul clearly states that his thankfulness flows out of two virtues that are both increasing in those with whom he is associated. He says that gratefulness naturally follows a faith that is growing and a love for others that is increasing. This is quite convicting in my life because whereas I deduce that I have both of these qualities in my life, I am reticent to claim that they are growing and increasing. Scripture indicates that the measure for gratefulness in the lives of those we love and lead is a faith that is growing and a love that is increasing. You see, it’s not just the virtue itself that is of import, but the fact of its increase in one’s life.
Faith and love are not flat. They aren’t like a gift we receive at which we just sit and stare and feel good about. These deeply important qualities in the life of an active believer are always growing and increasing. Faith grows in its understanding and intimacy of its object, Lord Jesus. Faith in faith is empty and truly cannot grow. Faith in our Father is the connection to relationship with Him and living relationships are always growing. Love is not singular nor static. It must be increasing for all who are around us and with whom we interact. It is our increasing love ‘for one another’ that sparks gratitude. In both instances, the object and the state of growth of the virtue are critical.
As I participated in a video Bible study with a handful of godly young men last night, I found myself deeply thankful. Their focus, words, commitment and prayers all exhibited a profound growing faith and declared their love for each other and those at the student center who lead them. Having known them for quite a while, it is easy to discern just how much their faith has grown and just how much their love for one another is increasing. Now, after being reminded of this passage in 1 Thessalonians, I know why it prompted gratefulness deep within me. What a blessing!
May your faith grow and your love for one another increase that gratefulness may abound.