2 Thessalonians 1:3
We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing.
As Paul opened his second letter to the people of Thessalonica, he gave God thanks for two specific things about the church. Interestingly, especially when compared to the measures of church health often offered today, the reasons for which Paul gave thanks were not numeric or evangelistic. While I love when the church grows, and I love sharing the faith with others, I have to stop and notice that the reasons that God inspired Paul to give thanks for the Thessalonians church were their spiritual growth and their love for each other.
These two marks, spiritual growth and love for each other, should be present in any church of the Lord Jesus. We should be growing spiritually. We should be studying and applying God’s word to our daily lives. Our learning should go deeper. Our obedience should become more and more joyful. Whatever it means to grow in the faith, our churches exist for us to do those things.
We also should be loving each other. When you look at texts regarding the local church, there is a constant call for us to exercise godly love one for another. We are to care for each other and help each other out in hard times. We are to aid each other in our Christian walks. Genuine love for one another, in fact, is the way that Jesus said that the world will know that we actually belong to him (cf. John 14:35).
So, Christians, let us set our hearts in our churches on spiritual growth and love. Without question, those areas will also lead us to mission, to outreach, and, by the grace of God, to numerical growth. But first and foremost, we are to be people who love God and love each other like crazy.