Monday, May 14
Increasing relational capacity
Scripture: 1 Chronicles 22-24, 1 Thessalonians 3
1 Thessalonians 3:8 For now we live, if you stand firm in the Lord.
1 Thessalonians 3:12 And may the Lord cause you to increase and overflow with love for one another and for everyone, just as we do for you.
Paul heard a report that the new Christians in Thessalonica were suffering, and he was worried that their hardships might cause them to abandon their new faith in Jesus. So he sent Timothy to check on them, and when Timothy returned with a good report, Paul was encouraged and rejoiced.
Verse 8 reveals the depth of his concern for and connection with these new believers. “For now we live, if you stand firm in the Lord.” His life was bound up with theirs. If they lived, so did he; if they died, so did he.
Verse 12 is part of his prayer for them—it’s all beautiful, but this part struck me because of the clarity of loving not only one another, but everyone. Love everyone always.
First, I admire Paul’s relational capacity—to be so close to these disciples that his life was bound up in theirs. I tried to imagine who I would say that about. For example, I just received news of a man in our church who has, it seems, left his faith. Am I dying inside? No. Am I concerned for him? Of course—but not at the level Paul seemed to be for the Thessalonians.
My rationale is that I’m stretched so thin relationally—I have so many people to care for that it’s impossible to be that close to all of them. But Paul was planting churches all over the Empire, and seemed to maintain this kind of closeness with all of them!
I wonder how much of this is a reflection of our theology. We have a more individualistic view of the Christian faith, while most of the world now, and Paul then had a more communal view. Me vs. We. Or perhaps it is due to the accelerated nature of life today and the multiplication of distractions and time-wasters. Our pace and amusements conspire to keep us less connected. How can I deepen my relationships and be connected like this?
Second, I love this prayer for an increasing, overflowing love for one another and everyone. I want it to be a reality in me and in our church. I want an increasing relational capacity and overflowing love…for everyone.
Prayer: Lord, increase my relational capacity. Show me how to connect more deeply. “And may You cause us to increase and overflow with love for one another and for everyone.”