This is a poor chapter break. This could be a good time to remind everyone that the Bible was not written with chapter divisions. They were added later to helps us better find passages (It is easier to say Isaiah 43:2, then say Isaiah said. I mean should we really be expected to know where Isaiah might have said something). I say that because 3:1-10 continues the thought of the end of chapter 2, which is Paul’s concern for their spiritual well-being.
Specifically, Paul is worried about their faith (notice the repetition of your faith in this section). Paul’s concern leads him to send Timothy (what trust Paul had in this young man). He wants to ensure that his missionary efforts were not in vain (compare 2:1 with 3:5, so far the work of Paul had not been in vain, but that could all change).
The reason Paul is worried is because he understands that Satan uses external forces for his will. The suffering of the Thessalonians provides a great opportunity for Satan to tempt these Christians (3:4). Satan waits for such opportunities.
The good news is that the Thessalonians are still living out their faith. They were an encouragement to all (1:5-10), but now they are also an encouragement to Paul. Believers staying faithful during difficult times encourages others. The Thessalonians were faithful throughout their suffering. All that Paul is concerned with now is that they continue progressing. The rest of the book will focus on that goal.
How do we apply this? We must take serious the maintenance of our faith. We all know of people who started off well, but finished poorly. They ran in vain. We must not think that we are above this. We must be intentional and diligent in making sure that we are excelling. Connected with this is the need for us to recognize how Satan hinders us. Satan uses the difficulties in life as a way to tempt us to stop progressing. Knowing this means that when difficult times come we must lean even stronger on God and on our brothers and sisters to provide us the encouragement we need to grow. The blessing of doing this is that keeping and growing our faith in difficult times motivates and encourages others to pursue God more fervently.
Regular readers just want to let you know the site continues to grow in influence. I wish I could thank you all personally for what you are doing, but in case I am unable let me say it through this post. You have taken ownership of this community. I’m so glad we are growing together (in more than one way).