1 Thessalonians 3:6-13 (ESV)
6 But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and has brought us the good news of your faith and love and reported that you always remember us kindly and long to see us, as we long to see you— 7 for this reason, brothers, in all our distress and affliction we have been comforted about you through your faith. 8 For now we live, if you are standing fast in the Lord. 9 For what thanksgiving can we return to God for you, for all the joy that we feel for your sake before our God, 10 as we pray most earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith? 11 Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you, 12 and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, 13 so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.
We compare everything. If you buy a house, you look at other houses to see what they sold for. Picking out fruit in a grocery store is silly and gross. No one knows what they are doing, but they touch everything thinking they have come up with some way to find the best fruit. We want the guys office chair right next to ours, because his looks much more comfortable. Our clothes are bought and worn based on what others might think, or what we’ve seen the people on TV with terrific jobs and miserable real lives wearing. And our cars have sunroofs and alloy wheels, because it will have better resale and look better to the other cars out there. Everything is comparison. It’s funny how comparison rarely leads to contentment. Comparison can lead to pride, or dissatisfaction, but never contentment.
Somewhere, somehow, we have a standard in our head. We compare everything to how we think it “should” be. The goal, the standard, the ideal can be different for most. We talked about success a few weeks ago. We defined success as the achievement of a desired plan or goal. This goal for success is important as a parent, as a mother, and vital as a Christian.
Jesus took comparisons and flipped them on their head. He celebrated a widow for her gift that was insignificant compared to the Pharisees. He measured success by sacrifice. Paul, and his leaders in mission, was willing to sacrifice over the success of the Thessalonian people. 8 For now we live, if you are standing fast in the Lord. 9 For what thanksgiving can we return to God for you, for all the joy that we feel for your sake before our God,
In the success of the faith, and actions of the Thessalonians, Paul was cheering them on, by saying, “YOU GIVE US LIFE- through your faithfulness in Christ.” Paul’s life was wrapped around his “children”- His desire wasn’t for them to have more, to wear the right thing, to be rich and blessed, and happy. Paul lived for his followers to grow closer to Christ and to stand firm in their faith. In fact as you read many of Paul’s letters to young believers that he writes all throughout the New Testament, you see him constantly talking about the concept and praising those that “stand fast”.
Steadfast faith implies permanence, or an image of holding up under great pressure. When you compare, it is easy to wander off from who you are and what your supposed to be about. But, as followers of Christ, we are called to stand fast in our faith in Christ.
Insert your favorite movie clip here. Whether it’s Braveheart, Gladiator, Gettysburg, or Alvin and the Chipmunks, there is this moment, when the soldiers did in and protect that spot on the map. They choose to not wander off, and let fear, doubt, or comparison over take them. They stand fast.
Isn’t that what we want for ourselves as believers and in return, for our future generations? I don’t know about you, but I want to stand fast. I want the Church to stand fast, and I want our children to stand fast in Christ. As parents, as mothers, as fathers, as the faithful fellowship held responsible for raising up our children, we want them to stand fast.
Comparison on a human level brings our pride or dissatisfaction, but focusing on God leads us to worship Him, and that worship, brings contentment. It is in our trust in Christ that we want to follow Him in everything that we do and are, especially as men, women, and children for Christ and even more so as parents and specifically mothers. 12 and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you. Your desire should be to grow in the knowledge and love for Christ, and pray that God will increase your love for Him, for others, and as the passage says, that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.
Comparing will bring dissatisfaction. You will never be pleased by how others look, versus yourself; honestly, you will probably never be satisfied period by a worldly standard. Isn’t that the way it’s supposed to be, we are constantly after the more, the better, and the chase never stops. That sounds exhausting.
Have you ever really experienced contentment? One of the key phrases in defining contentment is “an ease of mind”. Jesus brings this to our lives. It is this notion that one day, He will return. In this contentment, we should fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of faith. In Christ, we should rest our minds, our hearts and souls.