We ought always to thank God for you, brothers, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing.
Do you ever wonder if your time given to ministry is worth it? That loud and rambunctious group of kids that you teach in Sunday School seldom pays attention. Your church members look dead in the pews and the words you say seem to go in one ear and out the other. You get stuck in the nursery and can’t find anybody else to help. Is it really doing anybody any good for you to have to attend all those choir rehearsals? It just doesn’t look like there is any visible evidence that all your hard work is making a difference. Does what you do really matter?
Most of us who have taken ministry seriously have gone through times when we felt that our work was in vain. There just wasn’t anything to show for all that hard work. Sometimes the only results you can see from your ministry are complaining, resistance, and an unwillingness of others to help.
A while back some participants in our church youth group paid me a visit. They had just returned from a youth conference, and they wanted to share their experience with me.
“The preacher who led our meeting talked about you in his message,” said one of them.
“Oh, really. I hope it was favorable.” I said, wondering who was using me as a sermon illustration.
They continued, “He said that you gave your testimony at a Fellowship of Christian Athletes rally and that night he gave his life to Christ.”
I could not recall the young man from their description, and I had only a vague recollection of speaking to his group. I was delighted to learn that he was now the pastor of a nearby church.
More recently, a young man that I worked with brought a scrapbook for me to see. He pointed to a picture of me and his mom taken at a Christian Women’s Club meeting where I had been the guest speaker. On that night she had given her life to Christ and now she and her family were all serving the Lord.
Investing in the Lives of Others Advances the Gospel
These stories are reminders of the importance of sharing Jesus with others and how God uses the seeds that we’ve planted to grow our brothers and sisters in the faith. We should also be reminded that our part in ministry is planting and nurturing. The harvest is up to God. And when we see evidence that our ministry has resulted in increase then there is cause for thanksgiving because we know that it was the work of God.
Investing in the Lives of Others Gives Us Cause for Thanksgiving
In today’s focus scripture the Apostle Paul’s expression of thanksgiving was prompted by evidence that his investment in the lives of others had resulted in people growing in faith and love. “We ought always to thank God for you, brothers, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing.”
The people of the church at Thessalonica had hit upon hard times including much persecution for their faith. The fact that they were still trusting God, still serving the Lord, and growing in their love for one another was evidence their faith was real, and Paul’s work was not in vain.
Think about those who have ministered to you in your life. That special Sunday School teacher. That pastor who impacted your life. A parent…a grandparent…or a friend. Somebody along the way took time to plant the seeds of the faith in your heart and today, as a result, you are serving Christ.
I know for certain that if my grandmother was alive today she would be very thankful to know I am still growing in the faith and serving the Lord. Her greatest desire for my life was that I would live for Christ.
If you are involved in ministry…then you are influencing the lives of others for Christ even at times when it may look like nothing is happening. Keep planting and nurturing. Don’t stop investing in the lives of others.
Every now and then you will hear of someone who grew in the faith because you took time to care. Such times are cause for thanksgiving because you know that God used you to make a difference in somebody’s life. You shared with them the most important thing anyone can know. You planted the eternal seed of faith. “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift.” (2 Co. 9:15)
For more on Christian service check out this article: The Christian Work Ethic
Reprinted from The Forever Notebook, Book 1 (January – March) Get your copy here: Paperback and eBook/Kindle formats.