Beyond the Gospels: Thessalonians

Today’s Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 3:6-13
(Click on the link to read today’s verses.)

May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other
and for everyone else, just as ours does for you.
1 Thessalonians 3:12

I heard a very frank preaching once that still impacts me today. The teacher was speaking about the sin in our lives when it comes to loving others. He talked about the impossibility of making ourselves care for someone or changing our own hearts when it comes to issues of racism and bigotry. What intrigued me the most was the preacher’s challenge. Basically he challenged listeners to just be honest with God and ask Him to change our hearts.

Seems easy enough at first thought, but who really wants to be honest with God about such things. It is a humbling moment to realize you cannot orchestrate a change in your heart through willpower alone. It is even more humbling to turn to God and honestly confess it before Him. We’re a funny people at times… trying to hide something from a God who sees it all. The truth is God knows it already. It’s our own pride that keeps us from saying it out loud.

I was ironing shirts the day I heard that message. I can see it clearly as if it were just a moment ago. There I am steaming iron suspended over the board and smiling to myself. This teaching is a life changer. It is not my job to will my way into loving someone. My job is to admit when I can’t and ask God to do the loving through me.

Paul prays that the Lord would increase the Believer’s love for each other until it overflowed. He will do the same for us. Go on… give it a try. Think of that person or group of persons that you are finding hard to love. The ones you might avoid in the grocery store or feel annoyed with when you see them coming. What someone leaves you frustrated every time you talk to them?

Now that you have someone in mind let’s pray.

God, you know my heart and my mind. You know I am finding it hard to love ______________. I get so frustrated with _________________, but mostly I’m frustrated with me. Forgive me for being prideful and hiding what I know you already see. I can’t love ________________, but you can. Love them through me Lord in a way I never could. Increase my love for them until it is overflowing. In Jesus name… amen. 

I’ve said this prayer so many times over the years and He is always faithful to answer. No, it doesn’t always happen over night, but little by little our hearts will shift and change. And one day what frustrates you doesn’t even bother you anymore. You’ll find yourself reacting so differently in a circumstance that there is only one explanation. The explanation has a name… Jesus.

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