ODJ: privilege of love

October 3, 2013 

READ: 1 Thessalonians 2:1-20 

Yes, you are our pride and joy (v.20).

Three nights ago my husband and I closed a chapter in our life. Youth ministry has been my niche for as long as we’ve been married (nearly 18 years) and even longer for my husband. As we prepare to lead a church plant, this autumn has been a long series of goodbyes—our last youth retreat, Christmas banquet, youth service. This past Monday evening was our final, and most difficult, goodbye.

For several years we’ve also loved the university students who gathered with us to run after the heart of God. Chairs in the big room, fizzy drinks in the fridge and hearts prepared, we opened our home and our lives to them.

Knowing the heartache of relational difficulties, physical separation and the accusations of those who didn’t understand, the apostle Paul counted it a great privilege to invest in others’ lives. He knew that Christ’s mandate to “go and make disciples” was about people, not programmes (Matthew 28:19).

Love is a privilege, one that requires a great investment. Because they lay down their lives regardless of the cost (John 15:13; 1 John 3:16), those who love well in the kingdom willingly risk rejection as they “[plead, encourage and urge others] to live [their] lives in a way that God would consider worthy” (1 Thessalonians 2:12). Like Paul, though, they discover the secrets of the kingdom: a life surrendered to Jesus is great gain (Mark 8:35), and those who come to Jesus through our ministry are our “pride and joy” (1 Thessalonians 2:20).

When we invest in others, the return is invaluable because, truly, nothing this world offers can compare to the joy of seeing others fall deeply in love with Jesus (3 John 1:4). —Regina Franklin

Read Esther 2:5-20 and consider Mordecai’s role for “such a time as this” (Esther 4:14). 
Who made a significant spiritual investment in your life? How can you make that kind of an investment in others?