from Lynda Lindsey
Because we wanted to come to you——I, Paul, again and again——but Satan hindered us. For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at His coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy. I Thessalonians 2:18-20
And we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s coworker in the gospel of Christ, to establish and exhort you in your faith, that no one be moved by these afflictions. For you yourselves know that we are destined for this. I Thessalonians 2:17
For now we live, if you are standing fast in the Lord. I Thessalonians 3:8
The Thessalonians continuance in the gospel and their love for one another and the Lord, despite the shortness of Paul’s original stay, gave Paul great joy. The Thessalonians steadfast adherence to the gospel was Paul’s reward for his ministry among his beloved spiritual children, as if they were Paul’s victory crown. Victorious warriors returning from battle, as well as distinguished athletes, received a victor’s crown as a prize for special achievements. Paul’s utmost hope and joy, his crown, was that his converts would be found faithful to Christ at the Lord’s return.
Paul didn’t depend on earthly possessions or ease of living for fulfillment; Paul’s life had meaning when his converts stood fast in the Lord. Paul yearned after his newly converted flock and sought to encourage the persecuted believers to remain unmoved in afflictions, because affliction is the destiny of Christ-followers. Soldiers in that day who displayed unusual valor received public acclaim. Besides receiving a victor’s crown, they were excused from performing community service, had reserved places at public events, and people stood in homage as they walked past.
Those honors were a far cry from the shameless treatment God’s heroes received; they were beaten, publicly reviled, hindered by Satan, mocked, imprisoned, and stoned. Yet, Christians rejoice at the high privilege of serving Christ and advancing His kingdom. Secure in our reserved place in heaven, we seek Christ’s approval, not man’s homage. Christ’s return is our sure hope. Some future day we will receive our reward, a crown of unfading, imperishable glory. Until that day comes, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, for labor in His fields is never in vain!