1 Thessalonians 2:19-20
19 For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?
20 For you are our glory and joy.
Those of us who are parents (or grandparents) certainly remember the joy we felt at seeing our kids take their first steps in life. Each milestone – first step, first words, first day of school, first award – is etched into our memories, and we rejoiced at each moment as our children grew and became, to be honest, more like the children we hoped they would be. Growing in Christ is much the same.
At some point in our lives, someone introduced us to the gospel of Christ. Perhaps it was our parents as we grew up, perhaps another relative in our childhood, or perhaps, as in my case, a friend in our adulthood. Someone was there as we took our first baby steps in Christ Jesus, someone who rejoiced as the grace and peace of the Savior became evident in our lives. They watched expectantly as the fruit of the Spirit showed through more and more. They watched us like proud parents as we moved from the “milk” of their first teachings to the “solid food” of later revelations about the true love and character of God.
I should hope that in those early days as “little Christs” we sought to make our spiritual parents proud. In my own case, the more I learned, the more I shared with my pastor and my new friends at our little church. And I could see the great joy on my pastor’s face when I told him I was called to ministry. He has gone home to the Lord now, but I imagine he continues to watch my progress and, right alongside my Savior, he is rejoicing in my triumphs and lamenting my failures like any proud parent.
Can we all say that our spiritual parent will claim us as a “crown of rejoicing”? Would the person who set us on this path be proud of where we are now? Have we truly grown in our Christlikeness, or are we still children in Christ even after many years? My heartfelt prayer is that we all grow and mature in Christ, going beyond mere acceptance of the gospel to a more fruitful relationship with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Let us all mature in the Lord so that our “parents” can say of us:
1 Thessalonians 1:2-4
2 We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers, 3 remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father, 4 knowing, beloved brethren, your election by God.
Gracious Father, Sovereign Lord, let this day me more fruitful for You than any other in my life. Help me to be someone in whom my pastor, my parents and my friends can rejoice, knowing the love I have for You, knowing the joy I have in following You. And, Lord God, I pray that I am someday a “proud parent” of a young believer, too. Amen.