“For now we live, if you are standing fast in the Lord.” (1 Thess. 3:8)
Paul makes this hefty statement to tell the people in Thessalonica how he felt when Timothy reported back that they were doing really well and in fact they had great affection for Paul.
Is this statement representing a healthy point of view? Is it hyperbole? Let’s just say yes and no! It is a healthy thing to say and think, and it probably is not hyperbole. Paul is expressing the wonderful thing about human relationships. The way God has made us is to be in a covenant community. We should care deeply about people, and know that they care about us. Paul says his life depends on their faith. He has risked his life to bring them the good news, and he is exuberant that they are sticking with it. They need to know that it matters so much to Paul that they stay with the Lord. They need to feel the pressure of having Paul dependent upon their walk with God.
The famous statement of John surely fits here too: “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” (3 John 4) John could take a lot of suffering in his exile if he heard that his investment in the lives of his “children” was producing fruit. He was dependent upon them for joy.
I believe that God has made us to be social beings and interdependent on others. It is a very good thing to care about others and have others care about you. Who is encouraged when you are standing fast in the Lord? They would be so disappointed to hear that your faith was falling apart and that you are not walking with the Lord. Allow this to be a healthy motivation to stay faithful to the Lord. People are watching you. They may know of a trial that you are undergoing and they are watching how you take it. Think of the whole network of your family and friends who would be impacted negatively by your slipping away.
On the other side of things, do you have people for whom you care deeply? Pray for people. Fervently intercede for their spiritual life. If you can, serve in a teaching role or somehow directly contribute to the spiritual growth of a few people. We are designed to care for others. It is healthy and righteous to love others and be effected by their standing fast in the Lord.