True Gospel Crowns
Lord, at times I feel alone or confused. Quiet my heart now and speak to me.
Read 1 Thessalonians 2:17—3:5
17 But, brothers and sisters, when we were orphaned by being separated from you for a short time (in person, not in thought), out of our intense longing we made every effort to see you. 18 For we wanted to come to you—certainly I, Paul, did, again and again—but Satan blocked our way. 19 For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? 20 Indeed, you are our glory and joy.
3 So when we could stand it no longer, we thought it best to be left by ourselves in Athens. 2 We sent Timothy, who is our brother and co-worker in God’s service in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith, 3 so that no one would be unsettled by these trials. For you know quite well that we are destined for them. 4 In fact, when we were with you, we kept telling you that we would be persecuted. And it turned out that way, as you well know. 5 For this reason, when I could stand it no longer, I sent to find out about your faith. I was afraid that in some way the tempter had tempted you and that our labors might have been in vain.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectLiving for God can seem so futile sometimes. Do you ever feel like that? If so, how do you reassure yourself in the faith?
Separation anxiety in young children is a fact of family life. The intriguing thing is that Paul feels it for his “spiritual children” whom he has parented to new birth (as we saw yesterday). Having had to leave in a rush, he’s naturally very concerned for how they are doing (17,18). But this baby church was born in the heat of persecution, which makes reunion impossible for now. So what is the basis for his confidence? It is the eternal work that Christ has begun in them; they are in fact the heavenly crown that he will glory in (19)!
That confidence doesn’t stop Paul doing what he can to get back in touch though (3:1). He can’t go, but Timothy can, to “strengthen and encourage them in their faith” (2).
These believers knew that trials and even persecution are an integral part of Christian discipleship. As for Jesus, so with Paul, and with them. They needed to cling to the hope of their own future crown, while they bore the present cross of their sufferings. But would they?
Take some time to remind yourself of why you are a believer. Focus on heaven, God’s presence in your life and all of his benefits.
Heavenly Father, in the face of any difficulties or trials, may I be able to cling to the hope of my eternal crown in Christ.
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