One of the growing questions we’ve been hearing in the church is whether it is really possible to show Christian love at a distance. Nearly 2,000 years ago, Paul actually faced this same dilemma.

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— for this reason, brothers, in all our distress and affliction we have been comforted about you through your faith. For now we live, if you are standing fast in the Lord. 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?

11 Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you, 12 and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, 13 so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.

1 Thessalonians 3:6-13

In this passage we find 3 characteristics of genuine transformational love:

  1. It longs to be with people (v.6)
  2. We find genuine joy in the success of others (v.7-8)
  3. It seeks to grow the faith of others through knowledge, love for one another, and holiness/sanctification (v.9-13)

These are good checkmarks to evaluate whether our own hearts are in tune with God’s purposes.

God’s desire for every believer is that we would be an instrument He uses to change lives.  Life-change happens as we live alongside others in love. As God changes our own lives, he uses us to point nonbelievers to the Gospel and grow the faith of fellow believers.

Related Message: Genuine Love That Transforms Lives

Discussion

  • What forces are pulling us away from a desire to be around other people?
  • How are you filling the need for community in a time of social distancing?
  • What are the marks of a leader who is genuinely interested in the success of others?
  • Which person’s presence in your life is helping you to gain the kind of knowledge that feeds your faith?
  • Who do you spend time around that you notice yourself becoming more like Christ as a result?
  • Can you see people becoming more Christlike because they spend time around you?

Prayer

Take time to pray for each person in the group. This is best done by breaking into groups of three. Pray specifically for God to use each person to grow the faith of others.

Jonathan Pugh
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