1 Thessalonians 2
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. – Vs 19-20
Over in 2 Corinthians 10:17, Paul said, "But, let him who boasts boast in the Lord." In 2 Corinthians 11:30 he said, If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness." In 1 Corinthians 1:31, he said, Let him who boasts boast in the Lord." But now, as he writes to the Thessalonians believers, he talks about receiving a "crown of boasting." Sounds like a disconnect, doesn't it? Paul seems to be saying that he is going to be able to boast about the people he has led to the Lord at His second coming. He refers to the Thessalonians believers as his crown of boasting or exultation. In the NET Bible study notes it says, "Paul uses boasting or exultation to describe the Christian’s delight in being commended for faithful service by the Lord at his return." Paul specifically refers to the role he has been able to play in their coming to faith in Christ. Being able to stand before the Lord and see those whom Paul has helped introduce to Christ was what was bringing him joy and giving him hope right now! He had his eyes on the future and decided any hardship or suffering he had to go through in order to take the gospel to the Gentiles was well worth it because one day he was going to get to stand before the Lord and see all those who came to Christ because of his faithful service.
What about me? What drives me to teach the Word of God day after day? What motivates me to tell others about Jesus and potentially face rejection or even ridicule? Is it the hope I have in that future day? Is it the joy I feel in knowing that I am playing a small part in their spiritual new birth and growth? Even in the face of Satanic opposition, Paul wanted to see the Thessalonians again, so that he could be a part of their lives. He was willing to suffer so that they could grow in their faith. It brought him joy. In fact, Paul tells them, "you are our glory and joy." They make him proud, like a father watching his child walk across the stage at graduation. They bring him joy, like the joy of a parent at their child's wedding day. For Paul, playing a role in the spiritual lives of others was everything. It was why he existed. It was what he lived for. It was his purpose for life. And when he was in the middle of doing it, he was in his sweet spot.
Shouldn't that be true of you and me? Isn't that why we are here? Yet we spend so much time finding our glory and joy in other things. But God has given us the same job as He had given Paul. Paul puts it this way in 2 Corinthians 5:18: "And God has given us the task of reconciling people to him." That is our job. That is our commission as believers. To bring others back into favor with God. To help them restore the relationship that has been lost because of sin. We do that by introducing them to Christ. And when we do, like Paul, we will discover it to be our greatest joy and delight. And nothing will motivate us more than thinking about standing before Jesus some day and seeing the faces of those who have come to know Christ through our efforts standing there with us! Now that's motivation.
Father, forgive me for letting other things, the things of this earth, to become my joy and glory. They are worthless and valueless. They will not even be around when I stand before Your Son. But people will be. They are the only thing that lasts. So help me see that doing my part in the ministry of reconciliation is the reason for my existence. It is why I am here. May I daily discover the joy of helping others come to Christ and grow in Him. Amen