My scheduled Bible reading today was 2 Thessalonians, chapter 1. As I read this I was moved by Paul’s prayer in verses 11 and 12, particularly the last part of verse 11. I’m being challenged, at the moment, to rethink my approach to ministry – not a complete overhaul but some healthy reflection. Because, in this text, Paul is praying for God to fulfill the good purposes of the Thessalonian Christians, and I think that applies to me too. Wow, that’s an encouraging thought and great reminder – that Christians can actually bring something to the table, ideas, leadership, plans, goals, our creative purposes and acts of faith to buildup the church, and God wants to fulfill those for His glory. That feels like freedom to me!
Following Paul’s example I will boast only in the Lord for those around me who are growing spiritually and doing ministry work. I will be thankful to God for his amazing plan to work through us as we share in this thing called church – even when things get difficult because it’s His church, not mine. He has empowered me through the Holy Spirit to bring these purposes to my faith community in order to glorify Him and bring people to see the Gospel and come to spiritual maturity. I will not be afraid of what people think – rather, I will look to God for his strength to direct and affirm my good purposes and acts of faith in order for Him to be glorified. I will focus on Him first and be thankful for the reciprocity of the Lord being glorified in me and I in Him because of the free gift of God’s grace (see verse 12).
I’m reminded of D.A. Carson’s book, A Call To Spiritual Reformation. Here’s what he says regarding verse 11…
[page 56] At this point Paul prays that God by his power may “fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith.” That is simply marvelous. Assuming that Christians will develop such wholesome and spiritually minded purposes, Paul now prays that God himself may take these purposes and so work them out as to bring them to fruition, to fulfillment…[continuing from page 57] …we need to go over our own agendas and priorities, and those of the people and leaders in our churches and missions, and ask again and again, “What are our goals, our purposes? What is our mission, our direction? What should we be attempting, for Christ’s sake?” And as we find answers to such questions, we must intercede with God that he, by his great power, might bring these good purposes, these faith-prompted acts, to bountiful fruitfulness.