Journal 1 Thes 3 (all references are from the ESV; changes in punctuation are mine)
Scripture: “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.
Therefore, when we could bear it no longer, we were willing to be left behind at Athens alone. (and) We sent Timothy (our brother and God’s coworker in the gospel of Christ) to establish and exhort you in your faith that no one be moved by these afflictions (Paul’s—see 1 Thes 2). For you yourselves know we are destined for this.
For when we were with you, we kept telling you beforehand that we were to suffer affliction (just as it has come to pass) and just as you know. For this reason, when I could bear it no longer, I sent to learn about your faith, for fear that somehow the tempter had tempted you and our labor would be in vain.” 1 Thes 2:29 through 1 Thes 3:5
Observation: A revelation: Paul makes the condition of the Thessalonian church something to possibly boast about before Jesus. But, is the condition of the Thessalonian church something to boast about?
Analysis: There are two aspects alluded to here: my personal condition and the local church’s condition.
Of which do I have responsibility for? The face in the mirror, of course. And, as a husband, my wife (see Eph 5).
What do I not have responsibility for? If I said I was responsible for children, co-workers, extended family, etc. I would be wrong and wrong in this manner: The Holy Spirit is the only entity that can change a heart. Me? I am responsible for the testimony of God, the presenting the Gospel, and all that—just as was seen in the Psalms section a week ago. The Gospel is not to be sold like promoting the good things of God, avoiding talking about the bad things, and making a close/sealing the deal. I am not a car salesman.
Guys like Kel and the elders? Yeah, according to the scriptures they have a stake in the health of the Local Church—and not just the temporal health. They have a stake in the continuing and deepening of the Spiritual/Biblical health; promoting and guiding to maturity.
But, as Paul relates, if I don’t make efforts, succumbing to temptations, their labor will be in vain.
Keeping the Main Thing the Main Thing. It isn’t just focusing on one aspect of the Gospel (like witnessing); it is focusing on the Gospel in all its beauty and entirety. It is making every aspect the aspiration of my life in Jesus and the application in the Local Church.
After all, do I want to be a disappointment or a boast? Sometimes I must think about not being something to be something I want…
Prayer: Father, what do I not want to be? For sure, even in my redemption, I don’t want to be a disappointment to You. I know and am convinced of Your everlasting Love to me—which can be a struggle at times because I think that sometimes I am so unlovable. Doesn’t matter what I think: Your Word is more than my feelings of inadequacy.
Help me keep moving forward in You.
I already miss Billy. I wish I had one more hour with him. AMEN.