A true believer walks with God. God intrudes into his daily life, his thoughts, his actions. He cannot NOT think about God, and lives with his heart turned toward heaven, Coram Deo.
A true believer makes much of Christ, who grows "bigger" every day, while he himself diminishes.
A true believer makes much of the Bible. Paul thanked God for the believers who accepted the word of God and recognized that it was not the word of men, but the actual Word of God. And then he said this:
For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy. (1 Thessalonians 2:19-20 ESV)
Have you been praying for a "beloved unbeliever" lately? Have you spent time crying out for God's mercy on someone you care for, only to see him fall again and again into patterns of sin? Don't give up on him! God sees your tears, and He hears your prayers!
Paul cried out and prayed for others, and God answered those prayers, giving him spiritual children. Paul didn't stop praying for them, because he knew they had an enemy.
In the third chapter of Thessalonians, Paul reminds his spiritual children that he wanted to come and see them, but Satan hindered. The adversary tried to tear down the churches and discourage the believers.
He whispered to them, "Look at Paul's troubles. God's plan isn't working!"
He sneered, "Look at Paul's afflictions. God must be displeased with him."
Paul wanted to protect them. He didn't want them believing the lies of the devil. He reminded them that God had revealed to him when he was first saved on the Damascus Road that he would suffer much affliction, but that it all was in His plan. Paul didn't mind the affliction and the trials and tribulations so much (he could even sing while in prison) but he didn't want the tempter to tempt his spiritual "babies" to lose faith.
So he sent Timothy to see how they were doing.
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, as we pray most earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith? (1 Thessalonians 3:6-10 ESV)
It was as if Paul was holding his breath, waiting for the news. When Timothy brought the good news of their faith and love, he breathed a huge sigh of relief. He could finally live.
How he thanked God for the work of grace He had done in their lives! How he longed to visit, to teach them, to feed them the "pure milk of the Word" so they could grow and mature in the faith!
If you've prayed and longed for the salvation of someone for years and years and years, and finally you see the light in their eyes as they talk about God and rejoice in Him, then you'll know how I feel. I have someone in my life who has recently been given eyes of faith and a heart turned towards God. He is like my spiritual baby. I feel like Paul, protective and tender towards him, longing for him to grow and mature and be steadfast and unmovable in his faith.
Paul's "babies" were tempted and attacked by the adversary. It is to be expected. My prayer is now that God will protect my "baby" from the fiery darts of the evil one.
Oh, he'll be tempted. All of us are. But by God's mercy, he'll grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Beautiful Saviour, Jesus Christ.
And now I can live!