6 Timothy has now come back from his visit with you and has told us about your faith and love. He also said that you always have happy memories of us and that you want to see us as much as we want to see you.
7My friends, even though we have a lot of trouble and suffering, your faith makes us feel better about you. 8Your strong faith in the Lord is like a breath of new life. 9How can we possibly thank God enough for all the happiness you have brought us? 10Day and night we sincerely pray that we will see you again and help you to have an even stronger faith.
11We pray that God our Father and our Lord Jesus will let us visit you. 12May the Lord make your love for each other and for everyone else grow by leaps and bounds. This is how our love for you has grown. 13And when our Lord comes with all his people, I pray he will make your hearts pure and innocent in the sight of God the Father.
So here’s the climax of all this interpersonal Heartbook stuff: they are as keen to see Paul as he is to see them.
Why not? He has brought them life in Christ. No wonder they love him to bits and want to see him again.
“We live if you are standing fast in the Lord” (v 8). This is the heartfelt cry of the pastor, of the parent, of the Christian friend. This is the heartfelt cry of our own investment in our children, in the people we have served in the past. This is no general concern for their health and wealth. (Did you get that job? Did you buy that condo?). No, we’re anxious about their spiritual lives, their completeness in Christ, their readiness for Jesus’ return.
“We’ve got to get together again,” writes Paul. “So may God direct our ways to make that happen.” But this is much more than “It’ll be great to have a coffee with you.” This is the profound joy of Christian fellowship. This is the pastor’s desire to teach and preach and “supply what is lacking in your faith.” This is the ambition to increase the love levels of a developing church. This is the incredible vision that God will “establish your hearts blameless in holiness.” (v 13)
Read again the beautiful blessing of verses 11-13. If you are away, if you are separated from family and friends and church and youth group, learn it by heart, stick on the bathroom mirror, add it to your cell phone home screen. Whether you’ll be able to meet again soon or not, you can always really grow stronger in a shared love, the hope of holy and blameless hearts at Jesus’ coming again.
Living God, when we remember those who love us, those who have blessed us and encouraged us as followers of Jesus, we are overwhelmed with gratitude. As their names come into our minds now, please continue to watch over them, sustain them in their faith, and encourage them in their obedience.