“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).
The apostle was quite happy with the faith and devotion of the Christians at Thessalonica. They had been converted from a pagan lifestyle, and made great inroads into the community. In chapter one, he extoled their faith and how it manifested itself throughout the region. He now points to the source of his own joy: seeing others in a right relationship with God.
The apostle Paul could have boasted in his privileged background, having enjoyed considerable advantages as an educated Roman citizen. But he considered that not in league with knowing God:
“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:7-8).
But he had an additional source of joy: seeing others come to God and grow in their faith. This joy led him to praise God and strive even more to fulfill his mission. Paul’s good example raises a question: What gives us joy?
Of course, we can and should be joyful over many blessings God sends. When God gives us children or grandchildren, we rejoice. A bridegroom derives joy from his pending wedding, as does the bride. We rejoice when God answers prayer. But Paul’s greatest joy was to see others walking in faith.
Let’s keep our mission “out in front.” Let’s never tire seeing people come to faith in Christ. Let’s pray often for our church and all of our campuses, that God would work mightily in our midst.
Finally, remember people in your immediate circle of influence. Pray for them and let your light shine before them. Be ready with spiritual answers to questions that come your way (1 Peter 3:15). Cooperate with our church’s efforts to reach by serving, giving and reaching out. As we reach out in love, God will fill our cup with joy. Remember who gives the joy: The One who give the increase.
“I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth” (1 Corinthians 3:6).
May God use us to reach others, and thereby increase joy all around.
Posted on Fri, March 3, 2017
by Sam Petitfils