This post is part of a devotional series based on our 2019 Bible Reading Calendar.
Paul began most of his letters thanking God for the church or person he wrote to, and Second Thessalonians is no exception. In verse 3, he spoke on behalf of himself, Silas, and Timothy as they jointly wrote:
We ought to thank God always for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, since your faith is flourishing and the love each one of you has for one another is increasing.
In his book A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, Eugene Peterson lamented that too many people in our culture want a quick-fix religion. They’re willing to give Jesus a try, but not as willing to follow him for the long-haul. “There is a great market for religious experience in our world; there is little enthusiasm for the patient acquisition of virtue.”
Yet, Paul’s thankfulness for the Thessalonican believers was not found in their experiences or quick-fix solutions to life problems. Instead, he was thankful for a flourishing faith and increasing love.
Both these ideas carry a sense of growth and duration. If you have ever planted and tended a garden, you know that it does not flourish overnight. You must plant the seed, water the seed, and keep watering the seed. Even when sprouts finally burst through the dirt, they must be watered and fertilized to grow big, beautiful, and healthy. You also must fight the war against destructive bugs and weeds that might harm or choke out the life.
Flourishing and increase takes time, care, and patience.
This is the sense of steadfastness that must be in our faith. True faith endures the test of time, growing and increasing from beginning to end. Sometimes that growth seems rapid. Sometimes it seems we are hardly moving at all. Yet, grow we do, focused on Jesus, as our faith flourishes and our love ever-increases.
All Scripture quotations taken from the Christian Standard Bible.
 Eugene Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction (InterVarsity Press, 2000), 16.