24 August 2015
Reading: 1 Thessalonians 3; Psalm 46
11 May God himself, our Father, and our Lord Jesus make it possible for us to come to you very soon 12 And may the Lord make your love for one another and for all people grow and overflow, just as our love for you overflows. 13 May he, as a result, make your hearts strong, blameless, and holy as you stand before God our Father when our Lord Jesus comes again with all his holy people. Amen. (1 Thessalonians 3:11-13 NLT)
Paul had planted the church in Thessalonica a few months before, staying with them only a short time before he had to flee for his life! Now he was writing from Corinth: first, to correct a misunderstanding about the promised return of Jesus Christ, and second, to see how they were doing in their faith. They, like others, were experiencing hardship and some persecution, and Paul was anxious for them.
Right in the middle of this very important letter of encouragement and instruction, Paul stopped to pray a prayer for the persecuted Christ-followers in Thessalonica. His simple prayer was that their love for each other and for everyone else, including their persecutors, would grow and overflow!
His prayer was not that they would have all their doctrines just right, or prosper financially, or become the largest church, or be spared the pain of persecution, but that their love would grow and overflow to each other and to everyone else. The result of their growing and overflowing love is that their hearts would be strong, blameless, and holy as they stood before God our Father at the end of their lives!
I need an adjustment to my perspective on what really matters – on what constitutes a healthy Christian life and a healthy church community. Paul’s measure of healthy Christian faith and his standard for what it would take to please God was simply that they would be growing and overflowing in their capacity to love others. What really matters is love!
Father, I pray today for me and for family and my church that you will make our love grow and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as your love for us overflows in kindness, mercy, and blessing. Please don’t let us be distracted and sidelined by things that, in the final analysis, don’t really matter! Amen.