Increase and Abound

There is always room to grow, and Paul insists we must.

1 Thessalonians 3 (6)

Pray Psalm 139.1-6.
O LORD, You have searched me and known me.
You know my sitting down and my rising up;
You understand my thought afar off.
You comprehend my path and my lying down,
And are acquainted with all my ways.
For there is not a word on my tongue,
But behold, O LORD, You know it altogether.
You have hedged me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is high, I cannot attain it.

Read 1 Thessalonians 3.11-13.

1. Why should “increase and abound” be a characteristic of our walk with and work for the Lord?

2. What is the relationship between blamelessness, holiness, and love? 

Paul is succinct in putting forth his wishes for the Thessalonians. He wants to see them, and he asks the Lord to make that happen (v. 11). But he is more urgent that they know what their priorities must be as followers of the Lord.

Above all, they must be diligent to “increase and abound in love to one another and to all.” Paul had already reminded them of the love he’d shown them while there (ch. 2), and he has expressed his love in this chapter; so he doesn’t hesitate to put his example before them, so that they might follow him in loving as they should. They are to love one another first, and then their neighbors as the overflow of that mutuality of love by which they grow in Christ in His Body. By mentioning God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, Paul seems to assume that love for God will be the driving force in nurturing such increasing and abounding love for others.

Blamelessness and holiness come by obedience to God’s Law and all His Word (cf. Ps. 1; Lk. 1.6; Rom. 7.12), the thrust of which overall is to grow us in love (Matt. 22.34-40; 1 Tim. 1.5). If the Thessalonians will concentrate on increasing and abounding in love, the Lord will make their “hearts blameless in holiness,” but increasingly, over time and not all at once. Their goal should be to continue increasing and abounding in love, blamelessness, and holiness until Jesus returns, becoming ever more like Him day by day.

When Jesus returns “with all His saints,” we’ll want to make sure we are recognizable as belonging to that company. We do not expect to attain perfection in this life; but we must not allow ourselves to fall into complacency about increasing and abounding in our calling to the Kingdom and glory of God. Just as Paul exhorted the Thessalonians, so he exhorts us.

1. How would you describe the state of blamelessness, holiness, and love in your life at this time? Are you increasing and abounding?

2. How can focusing more prayerfully and consistently on the people in your Personal Mission Field help you to increase and abound in love?

3. The Lord alone can cause us to increase and abound in love. We must seek Him earnestly in prayer and His Word, that He might teach and empower us for love. How can believers encourage one another to increase and abound in love?

Here we have another prayer―that in the mean time, while his way is obstructed, the Lord, during his absence, may confirm the Thessalonians in holiness, and fill them with love. And from this again we learn in what the perfection of the Christian life consists―in love and pure holiness of heart, flowing from faith. He recommends love mutually cherished towards each other, and afterwards towards all, for as it is befitting that a commencement should be made with those that are of the household of faith, (Galatians 6:10) so our love ought to go forth to the whole human race. John Calvin (1509-1564), Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 3.12

Lord, let me increase and abound in love today as I go into my Personal Mission Field, so that I…

Pray Psalm 139.7-24.

Ask the Lord to fill you with His Spirit and shape You for His purposes today, so that you might go forth into your Personal Mission Field to increase and abound in love for God and your neighbors.

Sing to the Lord.
Psalm 139 (Ripley: Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah, O My Soul)
You have searched me, Lord, and known me, when I sit and when I rise. 
From afar, my thoughts discerning, all my path before You lies. 
Every word, before it’s spoken, You behold and know it well. 
Both behind me and before me, Your sweet presence I can tell! 

Just to know this is more wondrous than my seeking soul can know. 
From Your ever-present Spirit there is nowhere I can go. 
Whether high above the heaven or below the earth in hell, 
even there Your hand shall lead me and Your Right Hand hold me well! 

Neither light nor dark conceals me; day as night is with You, Lord! 
All my inward parts You fashioned by Your all-decreeing Word. 
Praise the Lord, for You have made me; all Your wondrous works I’ll tell! 
All Your works declare Your glory, and my soul knows this full well! 

All my unformed frame You witnessed when You destined all my days. 
Precious to me, Lord, Your precepts; all Your wondrous Word I praise. 
More than sand, Your thoughts to me, Lord, far too vast their sum for me! 
When the morning breaks upon me, in Your presence I shall be. 

Let the wicked come to judgment – flee from me, all who cause pain! 
Lord, with malice they oppose You, while Your Name they take in vain. 
Shall I hate all those You hate, Lord, all who rise against Your face? 
Let them be my foes forever who reject Your saving grace. 

Search my heart, O Lord, and know me, as You only, Lord, can do. 
Test my thoughts and contemplations, whether they be vain or true. 
Let there be no sin in me, Lord, nothing that Your Spirit grieves. 
Lead me in the righteous way, Lord, unto everlasting peace!

T. M. Moore

Where do 1 and 2 Thessalonians fit in the unfolding of God’s covenant? Our course, Introduction to Biblical Theology, can help you understand the setting of all the books of the Bible, and how they fit into God’s unfolding plan of redemption. Watch the brief video introducing this course at The Ailbe Seminary (click here), then plan to register after January 1 in our Certificate in Kingdom Studies program, featuring Introduction to Biblical Theology.

Forward today’s study to some friends, and challenge them to study with you through this series on 1 and 2 Thessalonians. Each week’s lessons will be available as a free PDF download at the end of the week. Get a copy for yourself and send the link to the download to your friends. Plan to meet weekly to study Paul’s ministry and prepare for your own.

If you value Scriptorium as a free resource for your walk with the Lord, please consider supporting our work with your gifts and offerings. You can contribute to The Fellowship by clicking the Contribute button  at the website or by sending your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 19 Tyler Drive, Essex Junction, VT 05452.

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006).All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (available by clicking here).

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT. 

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