In 1 Thessalonians 3, Paul is describing his anxious concern for the Christians in Thessalonica. He had been prematurely “torn away” from them (1 Thes 2:17), unable to stay longer in Thessalonica to personally help these infant Christians grow. Ever since his departure, he had eagerly endeavored “with great desire to see [them] face to face” on several occasions, “but Satan hindered us” (1 Thes 2:18). Now, Timothy had been sent in Paul’s absence “to establish and exhort” these Christians in their faith (1 Thes 3:2).
Take a moment to reflect on what Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 3:5:
For this reason, when I could bear it no longer, I sent to learn about your faith, for fear that somehow the tempter had tempted you and our labor would be in vain.
Think about the chord that could strike in the heart of these disciples. If the tempter was successful in his deceptive efforts to lead these Christians away from their devotion to Jesus, not only would the personal effects be devastating, but the labor of Paul and his coworkers would have been in vain.
So here’s a question worth thinking about today: if I allow the tempter to ravage my walk with Jesus, whose labor would have been in vain? Most of us have been poured into–directly and indirectly–by a variety of preachers, teachers, shepherds, parents, and other disciples of Jesus. Whose labor might I potentially pour down the drain if I were to stop following my Savior?
Paul was open and honest about his fear that somehow the tempter had reached these believers in Thessalonica and wiped out the fruit of his labor like a devastating spiritual plague. May we all resolve today that we will not allow years’ worth of labor for our good and God’s glory to become vain.