1 Thessalonians 3:6-9
1 Th 3:6 (KJB)
But now when Timotheus came from you unto us, and brought us good tidings of your faith and charity, and that ye have good remembrance of us always, desiring greatly to see us, as we also to see you:
Good tidings - Good reports
Timothy had just brought back a good report to Paul how well the Thessalonians were doing. They were doing well spiritually and growing in the faith. That growth in the faith was manifesting itself in charity, which meant they were doing a tremendous amount of witnessing to all who they came across. It is a strong tenet of the faith that when a Christian starts growing in the faith and they are truly committed, then that growth and commitment will eventually manifest itself in some type of outward ministry. Here Paul was very happy with the report that the Thessalonians wanted to see him as much as he wanted to visit them. This is a great sign of growth because sometimes when a Christian is discipled early in their Christian life, they may grow and not desire to see the ones who groomed them. Sometimes it is a growth of hidden pride because they may have a little knowledge and it may puff them up. Here the Thessalonians were growing very strong and yet they still desired to see Paul again which meant that there was no arrogance among them nor was there any leader who tried to stop Paul from coming. The Apostle John had faced that problem. (3 John 1:9 KJV) I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not.
1 Th 3:7 (KJB)
Therefore, brethren, we were comforted over you in all our affliction and distress by your faith:
Distress - Necessity, worldly trials and hardship
While Paul was in Corinth, he was in the middle of much affliction. (Acts 18:1-17) He was also suffering from physical privation and other painful circumstances while he maintained his witness in Corinth. He was concerned about what may have happened to the Thessalonians, if Satan was able to turn them back to false religions or paganism. When Paul received the report that they were doing well, even while suffering great tribulation, Paul was joyful and comforted, probably relieved to find out that they were progressing in the Christian faith and not abandoning it. While Paul suffered, the good report seemed to mollify that suffering.
1 Th 3:8 (KJB)
For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord.
Stand fast - Stand still, persevere, stand firm
Paul here gives a tremendous principle for the Christian life. First, Paul realizes that it was the firm stand by the Thessalonians in the Gospel which caused them to continue to grow in the faith. They were able to stand firm because of their faith in the Lord. When one continues on in the faith and stands firm in the Lord, there is no limit as to what can be accomplished for the Kingdom of God. The only time a ministry wanes or becomes weakened is when we suffer some kind of opposition and then we allow that to control or limit our Christian involvement. No one wants to be persecuted but the reality is that true Christians will face persecution. If we allow the persecution to stifle our ministry, then Satan wins but if we use that persecution as a steeping stone, then we continue to grow in the faith, become stronger, and become bolder as we continue to stand firm in the faith. When Paul was in prison, he did not allow those circumstances to dictate his usefulness for the Lord. He wrote four of the most powerful epistles in the Bible while in prison: Colossians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Philemon. We need to use that example and not allow our circumstances to dictate our usefulness for ministry.
1 Th 3:9 (KJB)
For what thanks can we render to God again for you, for all the joy wherewith we joy for your sakes before our God;
Paul here exercises great joy before God because he canít even think of what he could possibly give to God in thankfulness for the keeping and growing of the Thessalonian Christians. Even among all the suffering that Paul was encountering, the good report that he received had filled him with joy. This is a great principle for the Christian. Whenever we are facing some kind of distress in our lives, it always seems in the midst of those trials, God will always send some good news about something. He does this because He wants us to know that we will not always suffer and that the works we have done in His name has not been done in vain. Sometimes in the midst of trial, receiving good news helps to reduce the impact of whatever tribulation we might be going through. He also wants us to know that He will never forget us, even though we are going through much tribulation at the present.