…and we pray most earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith (1 Thess. 3:10).
Paul traveled to Thessalonica and experienced fruitful ministry very quickly. He saw such success (Acts 17:4) that it caused great hostility from certain locals and forced Paul and his missionary companions to leave the city prematurely (Acts 17:9-10). Since Paul was unable to invest a sufficient amount of time teaching these new believers and hindered from returning (1 Thess. 2:18), he sent Timothy to visit them (1 Thess. 3:1-2) and wrote the letter we know as 1 Thessalonians.
Read Paul’s reaction to Timothy’s report from his visit in 1 Thess. 3:6-10.
6 But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and has brought us the good news of your faith and love and reported that you always remember us kindly and long to see us, as we long to see you— 7 for this reason, brothers, in all our distress and affliction we have been comforted about you through your faith. 8 For now we live, if you are standing fast in the Lord.9 For what thanksgiving can we return to God for you, for all the joy that we feel for your sake before our God, 10 as we pray most earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith?
Per Timothy’s visit, this young church was doing well. Paul was encouraged by their faith, love, and kindness. For all the good that Timothy saw, he must have seen something else that sincerely burdened Paul. He wanted to visit again in order to supply what was lacking in their faith (1 Thess. 3:10).
Without enough time to disciple these new believers in the fundamental areas of faith, they lacked some doctrinal clarity.
If you look at the following subheadings in the book, you might notice what some of their doctrinal needs were.
- He wrote on the importance of having a life pleasing to God.
- He wrote on the coming of Jesus.
- He wrote on the timing of the Day of the Lord.
These were areas that were lacking in their faith. Instead of criticizing them, he started where they were and helped them advance.
If Paul was to hear a report on your doctrinal understanding, what would he say? What topics would he find necessary to teach you?
In developing a Distinctive Discipleship plan, it is important to focus on one doctrine that needs to be strengthened. Instead of allowing yourself to be intimidated or guilty, address the needed area and get to work.
What doctrinal understanding is lacking? What will you do to get working on it?