Love Winnipeg is fast approaching, a time in which churches across Winnipeg are more intentional about loving people of the city God has placed us in. This is an exciting time as we take part in good deeds that Ephesians 2:10 tells us are "good works which God prepared in advance for us to do"!
But as I was reading 1 Thessalonians 3 this week, I noticed something else God prepares in advance for us. 1 Thessalonians 3:3 tells us that God actually “destines” trials and afflictions for us to go through. What’s up with that? Somehow I don’t feel quite so excited about that. But as strange as it may sound, how we face such trials is just as much a part of our witness as the “good works” God prepares for us to do. Paul’s concern for the Thessalonians was how they were weathering the sufferings at the hands of others (2:13-16; 3:5). And Paul was overjoyed to hear from Timothy that the Thessalonians were standing firm in faith and love (3:6-8). Paul then prayed that they would continue “to increase and abound in love for one another and for all people” (3:12).
In other words, could it be that the right response to the afflictions God has destined for us is the loving deeds God has prepared for us to do? Elsewhere, God says, “overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21). So why not respond to afflictions with affection? This is easier to do if we see where the afflictions are coming from. We need to see that the harassment we face as Christians in this world is actually measured out by God so that the world will be able to see a people who respond with love. This should give us greater grace to respond to the troubles in this world with faith in God and love for the people around us.
Life on this earth is not meant to be our satisfaction; our life in Jesus is. When the world around us sees that we can practice good deeds despite whatever is thrown at us, they will see that we’re living for Someone far greater than any comforts this world offers. That is how they will be able to see the treasure that Jesus is to us, and hopefully desire to know Him too!
© 2008 by Ken Peters
© 2008 by Ken Peters