The letters of the apostle Paul to the Thessalonian church – a strong church that Paul had planted and nurtured – are, in effect, spiritual report cards. The context is clear; Paul is writing to his best students – these are a teacher’s letters to those who have done best in class. Just how good were they? Paul tells us in congratulating them:
“And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia—your faith in God has become known everywhere” (1 Thessalonians 1:7).
But Paul doesn’t stop with congratulations – in fact, he only begins there. Having complimented the Thessalonians on their spirituality, notice how he continues: “…brothers and sisters, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more” (1 Thessalonians 4:1).
The Thessalonians clearly received a grade of “A” in pleasing God, but Paul urges them to do more – and he doesn’t stop with the first subject: “Now about your love for one another we do not need to write to you, for … you do love all of God’s family throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more” (1 Thessalonians 4:9). Another “A” – another still not good enough. Paul proceeds in the same way through all the subjects in which the Thessalonians had excelled: “Encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
Paul’s second report card to the Thessalonians is not much different: “… brothers and sisters … your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing” (2 Thessalonians 1:3); “… brothers and sisters, never tire of doing what is good” (2 Thessalonians 3:13).
The pattern is clear. Even though they were his best students, the apostle repeatedly urges the Thessalonian believers, strong as they were, to do more and more – never to stop doing more and more.
Humanly, it’s natural to want to rest a little after our battles, savor our victories, enjoy the report card and take a break before hitting the next semester. But Paul knew that the more we do with God’s help, the more we become capable of doing. God doesn’t want us to serve and help in any way other than to the fullest extent of His help. He also doesn’t want to reward us minimally, but to the fullest extent possible. That’s why Paul urges us repeatedly, if we are doing what we should, that is well and good! Now do more and more!