Involving the Heart, 1 Thessalonians 2. 4; 2. 17; 3. 13; 5. 14
Charles S. Jarrett, Malvern
Tried Hearts. "God, which trieth The contrast in the verse is between our hearts", 2. 4. He proves the hidden pleasing men and pleasing God. To springs, the motives that men can not bring the Word of God to bear upon
try, for they are hidden from them, our fellows does not make for popularity, yet if we would please men, we cannot at the same time please God. The apostle recognized a God-given trust, and he spoke as one whose stewardship was under divine scrutiny. The Lord said to the church at Thyatira, "all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts". Rev. 2. 23. This God-consciousness kept Paul from flattery or covetousness, 1 Thess. 2. 5, and from seeking men's admiration, v. 6.
What loss will be ours if, at the judgment seat of Christ, it is shown that our hearts have not been pleasing to God, although we have been active in service.
No doubt the proving of our hearts is taking place in other things besides the preaching of the Gospel. When we pray or give or serve the saints in any way, God is looking at the hidden purpose and motive. Let us then seek God's approval "not with eye service, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart", Eph. 6. 6.
Tied Hearts, "Taken from you. for a short time in presence, not in heart", 2.17. Acts 17. 5-10 shows the preaching of the gospel was opposed at Thessalonica as it was elsewhere. Paul and Silas were sent away by night after uproar had been raised. Men created the trouble, but Paul saw that Satan was behind it, 1 Thess 2.18. Where the Authorised Version has "taken from you", the Revised Version reads, "bereaved of you". It shows what a place the saints had in the apostle's affections. They remained in his heart and he longed to see their faces with great desire. He says again, "night and day praying exceedingly that we might see your face", 3. 10. If we loved the saints as Paul loved them, it would become evident. Many elderly believers, who have been active and faithful, when housebound would be uplifted by seeing your face. If you can show fellowship face to face, 2 John 12; 3 John 14, it is better than an enquiry or a telephone call. Visitation of believers who cannot come to meetings is a welcome ministry, open to all, but in general, neglected. To minister to the heart, a spiritual believer will speak, pray and read things that have first been made a blessing to his or her own heart. Let us seek to fulfil the prayer of our Lord Jesus in the well-known words, "That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee", John 17. 21.
Strengthened Hearts, "To the
end he may stablish your hearts un-blameable in holiness", 3.13. The word "stablish" means, "confirm", "establish", "strengthen", as in 3. 2 and 2 Thess. 2. 17. Our hearts are to be strengthened unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father. The apostle urged a life of holiness in those who were saved as 4. 3 shows. Holiness is the will of God for us and produces likeness to God, 1 Pet. 1.16. God would have us set apart wholly for Himself, in spirit, soul and body, with the Lord's coming in view, 1 Thess. 5. 23. How are hearts to be strengthened ? The previous verse reveals that it is by the exercise of love towards the saints and towards all men. If we will respond to the Lord, He will make us to increase and abound in love. Love is of God and God is love, 1 John 4. 7, 8. Note the words, increase and abound. They suggest a greater exercise of love with less restriction as to its objects.
We can all show more love, and we can be larger-hearted in it, not loving only the likeable and deserving. In reading of love, we understand it to be fruit of the Spirit, something God-like as distinct from natural affection, although that is not to be lacking in us,
Rom. 12. 10. The Spirit will indicate many ways of expressing love, not only by what we can do, but by teaching us to refrain from some things that are prompted by the flesh. The exercise of love has an end in view. It produces holy character. To act in love is to be unblameable before God, and not one of us has reached the point where he can increase and abound no further.
Faint Hearts. "Encourage the fainthearted", 5. 14 r.v. Paul has referred to those who were known to labour among them, who, as leaders, admonish them and who were to be highly esteemed and loved for the work they do. Now in verse 14 the leaders themselves are addressed, and they are given guidance in the discharge of their responsibilities. Those who do not act in accordance with the apostle's teaching are to be corrected by it, the fainthearted are to be encouraged, the weak are to be supported, and longsuffering is to be shown to all. True leaders must be faithful men with large hearts.
Fainthearted believers are not to be disregarded. In an assembly no one should be neglected. The Old Testament closes in a period of low spiritual condition when a remnant exercised a ministry of encouragement, Mai. 3. 16, and in these dark days elders will know the great need for a similar ministry. What causes believers to be fainthearted ? We suggest one great reason is neglect of the Scriptures in which we have the examples of faith and the reassuring promises of God; see Rom. 15. 4. Unless we appropriate the Word of God, we shall be fearful of adverse circumstances and of reproach, and shall fail to trust the Lord. When ten of the spies saw the strong people of Canaan, the cities walled and very great, and the giants the sons of Anak, their report made the heart of the people melt, Josh. 14. 8. Unbelief made all hearts faint, those of the spies and those of Israel. Believers suffering continued illness and those who live alone may also be subject to faintheartedness through loneliness or weakness. They are to be encouraged by means of fellowship and the application of the Scriptures, and while the responsibility is here placed upon elders, we can all seek to do this in a personal ministry, by word and letter. The need is apparent and opportunities are many for those who have eyes and hearts ready to help their fellow saints.