For God chose to save us through our Lord Jesus Christ, not to pour out his anger on us. Christ died for us so that, whether we are dead or alive when he returns, we can live with him forever. So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.
1 Thessalonians 5:9-11
Dear God, there are a couple of things in here that make me think. First, you chose to not pour out your anger on me, but to save me through Jesus. It was a deliberate choice. I was listening to an interview with the late Rich Mullins the other day, and he made a distinction between being used by you and being wanted by you. He pointed out that a lot of people were used by you who weren’t all that great. From the Nebuchadnezzars of the Old Testament to Judas and Pilate of the New Testament. But Jesus picked the disciples because he wanted them. This passage from 1 Thessalonians reminds me that you wanted and still want me. Of course, as part of my worship of you I want you to use me as you will, but my value isn’t found in that usefulness. It’s simply found in the fact that you want me.
The second thing that strikes me about this passage is the part about encouraging others and building each other up. Beyond how I talk to people and say things to them that are encouraging and uplifting, another important part of this is how I think and talk about them when they are not there. One of my favorite things to do with my wife is after we leave a party or some sort of gathering, to talk about the positives in the people we saw there. It’s amazing what it does for my spirit when I dwell on the good things in others that you see. Conversely, if we leave a gathering and have something negative to say about someone or a situation, I’ve found that it darkens my own spirit. So my encouragement and uplifting of others needs to not only be to their face, but also behind their backs.
Father, thank you for wanting me. Thank you for building something in me that benefits from exhibiting positivity, forgiveness, and mercy. Thank you that my soul can tell the difference when I violate these principles and give in to judgment, criticism, and insecurity. Be glorified in my life. Spread your kingdom into the world through not only my life, but through your church. Bring us home to our first love, and help us to recognize and then destroy the idols we construct to take your place.
I pray all of this as a grateful man who gets to pray through Jesus’s blood,