“Your faith is lacking.” This phrase may sound a bit harsh or underhanded, but Paul was writing it from a heart of compassion and care. It was not an indictment. It was a loving admonition. The believers in Macedonia were under constant threat of persecution, so, Paul sent a letter to comfort them during this trying time. After offering encouragement, Paul began to offer up instruction to these young believers. In the end of chapter 3, this instruction and admonition comes in the form of Paul’s prayer.
But as Paul explains his prayer for the Thessalonians, he indicates that there is something wrong with their faith. How could he say this about these believers who patiently endured such hardships? Was their faith not strong enough through this season of adversity? They had been abused and even imprisoned for their faith. Now, Paul was saying that it wasn’t enough. What did he mean by this?
First, what he didn’t mean when he was telling them they needed to increase their faith-
Paul wasn’t telling these young Christians that they needed to “believe more.” They undoubtedly believed all they could. The testimony of their endurance amidst overwhelming difficulty was a great indicator that they believed to their furthest extent. It wasn’t that they didn’t “believe enough.” He wasn’t telling them to pull up to the faith station and stick the nozzle in the faith tank and fill ’er up. It wasn’t that they were lacking in quantity. Men like Jason were some of the most sincere believers the church has ever seen.
So then, how could they increase their faith? Pastor John Macarthur says it this way, “Faith is the ability to trust the truth.” The amount of faith that you possess is directly proportional to the amount of truth that you understand. Paul’s time of instruction at Thessalonica was cut short when the authorities tried to arrest him. Now, their learning had become stunted and incomplete. Subsequently, their faith was equally diminished. They did not fully know the truth of God. They did not fully understand the Scriptures, and this left them in a sort of spiritual childhood. Their lack of understanding had resulted in their “lack of faith.”
Paul would plumb the depths of God’s greatness and truth with them by way of pen and ink. He was not satisfied simply with the fact that they were converted. He wanted to take them into soul-liberating truth. He longed to build their faith to a level that it currently could not even approach, and that could only happen if he took them to the truth that could build their faith.
We have truth available to us in ways that far exceed the access granted to these first century believers. By way of technology and the web, ministries now share Biblical teaching that can take the average Spiritual baby and plunge them into the depths of God’s truth. It is time that God’s children get serious about God’s truth. Is your faith lacking? Perhaps it is because you are still in spiritual infancy. Dive deeper into your understanding of God and find the soul-satisfying, life-liberating, hope-giving, faith-increasing truth.
Food for Thought: Why did Paul mean when he said that the Thessalonians faith was lacking? How could they increase their faith?