Our Hope, Joy and Crown

crown-iwMatthew 6:19-2019 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Paul took this verse seriously and the Thessalonian church was his treasure that he was storing up.

1 Thessalonians 2:19-20 19 For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? 20 Indeed, you are our glory and joy.

Our hope, our joy, our crown of glory – that is the way to describe the object of your ministry. That is how you describe your labor of love.  That is how you describe those you minister to when you are able to say as Paul did, “We were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.”

First, who is the object of your ministry? Who are you helping to grow spiritually?  Who are you investing in, spiritually?  Is it children, grandchildren, a Sunday School class, people you work with?  There should be someone.  There should be a spiritual labor of love for you.  Everyone should have a disciple, because that is what Jesus called us to be, disciple-makers.  “Go and make disciples” (Matthew 28:19)

Ok, yes, there is someone you want to invest in, someone you are investing in. How do you view them?  Are they a friend?  Are they a frustration?  Paul called them a hope, a joy and a crown.  I love that.  I dare say that if we considered those that we minister to as a hope, a joy and a crown that we might have a different attitude about serving.  We might take it a little more seriously.  Our commitment level might change.

For Paul it was the Thessalonian church. For us it ought to be our children, grandchildren, our Sunday School class, a coworker, a friend in need.  We must consider these people as our hope, our joy, our crown.  When customers come in the thrift store, they must become our hope, our joy and our crown.  When people walk in our church, they must become our hope, our joy and our crown.

The body of David Livingstone was buried in England where he was born, but his heart was buried in the Africa he loved. At the foot of a tall tree in a small African village the natives dug a hole and placed in it the heart of this man who they loved and respected. If your heart were to be buried in the place you loved most during life, where would it be? In your pocketbook? In an appropriate space down at the office? Where is your heart?

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Motivation

Why do you do the things you do? There are lots of answers.  “I work to support my family.”  “I play golf because it’s relaxing.”  “I cook because it brings happiness to my family.”  Most of what we do is for some reason, even if it is wasting time just to relax a little.  Much of what we do is to be productive, hoping that our effort will produce good results, making a positive difference in some way.

Many things we do are out of selfish motivations, doing things for our own interests, for what we can get out of it. Other things we do out of love, a response to what we have received.  Paul describes the actions of the Thessalonian church in this way, “We remember your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope” (1 Thessalonians 1:3).  Faith, love and hope where sources of motivation for this young church.

Faith produces work. When we believe in Jesus Christ, that He willingly died for our sins so that we may be forgiven and blessed with eternal life, we will live a godly life, which can be summed up in a single word, “work.”  Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey me.”  If we truly believe, our actions will be more godly every day.  The more we believe that Jesus is true and right, the more we will learn from Him and imitate him.

Labor is prompted by love. Labor goes beyond work to mean intense work with trouble and toil.  Love will drive us to give all the effort we have to help someone in a time of need.  We willingly sacrifice greatly for those we love.  What will a husband do for his wife?  What will a mother do for a child?  They will willingly give all they have for them.  We should love Jesus so much that we are willingly labor for His cause, giving our all for the salvation of the world,

Endurance is inspired by hope. We continue to live for God because we have the hope of eternal life.  We know that what lies ahead is worth enduring the challenges of living for God today.  There will be those who ridicule us, there will be times when it would be easier to forsake God, but we walk faithfully because we know how wonderful eternity will be.

Let your faith produce a godly life. Let the love of God prompt you to give your all for Him.  Let the hope of eternity encourage you to endure every trouble.