Hello and welcome to a new week of foundations podcasts. My name is Dave and as always, each day this week I’ll be bringing a passage from the Bible, a short reflection for the day and a prayer. As usual there’ll be a short worship song to help us reflect on what God might be saying to us, but luckily for you I won’t be the one bringing that to the table!
Last week Bryony brought some really thought provoking reflections on the start of 1 Thessalonians, we’ll continue that journey this week. Paul’s first letter to the Church in Thessalonica, which you’ll find on modern day maps in Greece labelled as Thessaloniki, is a letter that is incredibly relevant to us today, even after 2 millennia. Together with second Thessalonians it takes up only 8 out of almost 2000 pages in my Bible, yet it is bursting with great thoughts and instruction on how to be a disciple. Hence why we’re taking a month to really get to grips with it and ask God what He’s saying to us through it.
To quickly get us up to speed, the letter started with thanks and praise to God and the amazement that Paul has for the faith of this Church that has flourished even though it is 1000 miles from Jerusalem. We’re going to pick things up in chapter 2:17-20.
Let’s focus on those last few verses summed up by ‘you are our glory and joy.’ What does it mean to have significant relationships? Relationships are the connections we have to the people around us and how we interact with others. Each day this week Paul’s letter has something to tell us about how to relate to others. But more on that over the next few days. Significant relationships. Paul clearly delights in the Thessalonians because of the love he has for them. He genuinely wants them to thrive. But this passage is saying more than that. Paul is saying that the faith that the Thessalonians have and the lives they are leading are Paul’s crowning achievement. He’s not interested in whether you would judge his mission trips as a success or not. He’s not boasting about how many people have heard him preach or how many miles he’s walked for the gospel. Life isn’t about success for Paul, it’s about significance and he clearly feels he has made a significant impact in the lives of these people.
For us today, where have we made a significant impact? And come on, we’re all be friends, let’s have no unnecessary modesty here. What are we proud of in our lives?
Pride is often a word we avoid but it’s only a problem when we allow things to become all about us. It’s ok to be proud of something or someone as long as we acknowledge God’s role in the good that has happened. Back to the question. What are we proud of, what can we look back on and be pleased with? What ‘fills us with joy’, as Paul puts it?
A recent poll showed that the number one thing about Britain that people are proud of is the NHS. The way that we care for the sick in our society. The investments we make in people are often the most significant ones we will ever make. If that is true then, how does that change how we invest the resources we have now? Does this change how we use our time, our finances, our skills, our wisdom and experiences?
We can all have a significant impact in this world, whether we see that now or not. We’re never too young or too old to be used by God to build His kingdom. So for us today, where are those significant relationships that we want to invest in?
Father, thank you that you call us to lives of significance. Thank you for those that you have called us to invest in, whether that’s our friends, our neighbours, our colleagues, our children or our grandparents. Please be with us today as we seek to live for your glory. Amen.
READING: 1 Thessalonians 2:17-20
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. For we wanted to come to you – certainly I, Paul, did, again and again – but Satan blocked our way. 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? Indeed, you are our glory and joy.