When another person takes to heart of what you give to them from the Lord, it is one of the most rewarding joys we can experience in God in this life. When someone else recognizes God’s work in you so that they emulate your behavior makes worthwhile all the hardships you experience in the process. John says so much when he talks of the joy he receives by watching his children follow the Lord. Paul calls the Thessalonians’ church his “crown and joy”. To watch them go through trials successfully is a confirmation that God is in control of their lives as he is in yours. How will our spiritual children turn out? God looks at each of us with that same desire. Are we continuing to grow in his grace? Keeping in mind God is at work in his children’s lives, am I successful in my training, did I teach them adequately to trust the Lord for themselves? Paul tells Timothy to train faithful men who will be able to train others also. The responsibility is huge; we will never really know what result will remain until we stand before Jesus. This process is full of unsettling situations which can make us doubt whether we were successful. Besides today’s passage, there is one other occasion where Paul sent Timothy to check up on the Thessalonians church, only to be relieved to receive word back that they were still faithful.
2 Cor 7: 2 Receive us; we have wronged no man, we have corrupted no man, we have defrauded no man. 3 I speak not this to condemn you: for I have said before, that ye are in our hearts to die and live with you. 4 Great is my boldness of speech toward you, great is my glorying of you: I am filled with comfort, I am exceeding joyful in all our tribulation. 5 For, when we were come into Macedonia, our flesh had no rest, but we were troubled on every side; without were fightings, within were fears. 6 Nevertheless God, that comforteth those that are cast down, comforted us by the coming of Titus; 7 And not by his coming only, but by the consolation wherewith he was comforted in you, when he told us your earnest desire, your mourning, your fervent mind toward me; so that I rejoiced the more. 8 For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent: for I perceive that the same epistle hath made you sorry, though it were but for a season. 9 Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. 10 For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. 11 For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter. 12 Wherefore, though I wrote unto you, I did it not for his cause that had done the wrong, nor for his cause that suffered wrong, but that our care for you in the sight of God might appear unto you. 13 Therefore we were comforted in your comfort: yea, and exceedingly the more joyed we for the joy of Titus, because his spirit was refreshed by you all. 14 For if I have boasted any thing to him of you, I am not ashamed; but as we spake all things to you in truth, even so our boasting, which I made before Titus, is found a truth. 15 And his inward affection is more abundant toward you, whilst he remembereth the obedience of you all, how with fear and trembling ye received him. 16 I rejoice therefore that I have confidence in you in all things.
As we ponder God’s character from the above passage, I wonder if God would answer our signature question below in the following way…
Who are you Lord?
I AM the God who includes my children in my work. I have given you the job, the power, the joy and the rewards to join me in reaching the world with my Word and the hope of salvation. I often limit my actions toward this end to your vision, faithfulness and obedience. As a Father teaches his children in following his own profession, I will let you enjoy not only the happiness of success but the heartache of failure. My desire is that you would turn your eyes and hearts to my vision for the world, and join me in reaching them so that they would hear of my salvation. Don’t worry about to whom, where and when I send you, that is up to me. I will wait until you catch my vision first then lead you toward a particular individual. It is your responsibility to obey and go and open your mouth. People can’t make a choice unless they hear the good news.
The power of a testimony
You may not want to be called to go overseas and to leave your comfort zone. You are saved and satisfied. As the hymn says:
“My house is full but my fields are empty, who will go and work for me today?
It seems my children all, just want to stay around my table, No one wants to work in my fields.”
We would rather God bring people to us than leave the comfort of our routines and “go” find them. But how is that being obedient to Christ’s command to “Go into the entire world?” Even in your personal “Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria” you still have to open your mouth and teach another how to “Obey all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” Only when you open your mouth, will God speak. Only when you faithfully open your mouth to one person, will he show you who he wants you to speak to next and thus will grow your confidence and usefulness. Your testimony of all that the Lord has done for you is the best place to start. Jesus told the man controlled by the legion of demons simply to tell everyone how much the Lord has done for him. Discipleship is basically that. Anyone can disciple another in what they know and encourage them to continue seeking God. Oh the joy that will fill your heart as you see how God uses you.
Our problem lies in the fact that we don’t think we have anything to share, and that is the case because we don’t want to study to show ourselves to be approved workmen. Because we don’t want to be useful, we don’t study to become useful. The reverse is true too; because we don’t study, we are not useful. Only as you become a good disciple yourself can you make good disciples. If Christ’s message is important to you, it will become important to others who watch you. See my post on Romans 1:11 to see that you have a spiritual gift to give to other people to strengthen their faith as they have to strengthen yours.
More to come,