As a writer, I dream of penning a best-seller (or, let’s be honest, authoring a book that achieves even modest success). As a golfer, I dream of one day shooting in the 70’s. As a trivia nerd, it’s competing on Jeopardy!
What about you? What ambitions do you strive for — those life goals you’ll look back on with satisfaction when life nears its end?
When speaking about ambition, we often gravitate toward accomplishments — the award won, the marathon finished, the position earned. These aren’t inherently wrong, but Paul points to a more lasting ambition that is tied more to a relationship than an accomplishment.
As Paul looks to Jesus’ return and his assessment of how Paul lived his life of faith, he sees Christians in Thessalonica as his “crown of boasting” and his “glory.” The implication is that these men and women, whom Paul had personally led to Christ and discipled toward maturity, were themselves the prize at the end of the race. They were the award, the ambition toward which he strove.
Earlier in this letter to the Thessalonians, Paul referred to himself as a parent to them, encouraging them and urging them to excellence in Christ. The anticipation of standing alongside people he’s directly helped know and honor Jesus, as they all meet Christ together on the last day, is a reward far beyond even the greatest personal achievement.
As I read Paul’s words, I’m stirred to pursue that same ambition with more zeal than my other dreams. Will you join me? The glorious joy that awaits is worth the investment.
Lord, thank you that you choose to use people to accomplish your purposes. I pray that you’d give me a deep longing to help others come to know you and mature in faith. Lead me to those you’d desire me to influence. In Jesus’ Name, amen.
Go Deeper — All Christians are invited into the work of helping others know and follow Jesus; it’s not something for pastors or missionaries alone. It can start with simple steps. Tell a neighbor about Christ or learn to mentor a newer Christian.
Photo Credit: Mars Williams