By Kevin Rutherford
What is your hope? Perhaps you have hopes for your family and friends. You might even carry within your heart the hope of an eternal home in heaven with God.
What is your joy? Do you have joy in that which is pure and good and holy? Do you have joy in the sight of Christian families raising their children to love the Lord?
Paul wrote, “For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming? For you are our glory and joy (I Thessalonians 2:19-20).” Paul’s crown of rejoicing would be seeing his beloved fellow Christians in the presence of Jesus Christ as His coming. Let us rejoice not only in our own salvation, but also in the salvation of our brothers and sisters in Christ.
This powerful statement from Paul expressed a deep love for brethren. There is no doubt he wrote these words in sincerity and conviction. What do you suppose could bring Paul to have such strong love and concern for fellow Christians? Is it just that God commands us to love our brethren (I Thessalonians 4:9-10)? No doubt that is part of it, but that love becomes deeper, stronger, more devoted and more committed when we pray for our brethren, fellowship our brethren, and in particular when we serve our brethren.
Paul poured himself out in his service to fellow Christians (1 Thessalonians 2:14-18). Paul came to the people of Thessalonica with sincerity, with the truth, without seeking glory, and without making demands. He served these people with gentleness and affection all while exhorting comforting and charging them as a father does his own children. This kind of dedicated service to fellow Christians increased the depth of Paul’s love and devotion to them. The more we learn to serve others, the more we will love them.
Let us grow in the strength of our love for one another by serving one another. Let us look for ways to lift one another up and push each other forward. Let us be able to say with heartfelt conviction that our hope, joy, and crown of rejoicing at the coming of Christ will be to see our Christian brothers and sisters with the Lord. May God bless you! To God be the glory!
- Kevin Rutherford preaches for the Warners Chapel church of Christ in Clemmons, NC. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://warnerschapelchurchofchrist.org/