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Driving through a fast-food place, I pulled behind a car with smelly exhaust, an inch thick grime covering the factory white color, and the backseat full of tools and an assortment of building supplies. It was truly one of those moments I was in a big hurry and needed to place an order sooner than later.
Yet, the driver of the smelly, dirty and hoarder car was not in a hurry. No, far from it as he pondered the menu, asking questions about one item and then another. I am sitting in my truck choking on the fumes blowing directly into the air vents. And waiting…but not patiently…
After placing his order, I placed my small order of a burger, fries and drink, then pulled around the first window (drive-thru always tells you to “please pull around to the first window”) where I took out my wallet. The young lady was taking the next order, while holding up a finger, indicating I was to wait.
“Sir,” she said with a smile, “the man in the car pulling away from the pick-up window paid for your meal.”
I was shocked and stammered, “What…he,” pointing at the grimy, smelly, full car driving out of the exit and pulling into traffic, “paid for…my number 3?”
Have you ever been in a situation where you felt a simple “thank you” was not enough to express how thankful you really felt? It may have been someone you have never met paying for your meal at a drive-thru, or maybe someone returned a lost wallet or cell phone, or a friend helped you turn your life around, or a person saved your loved one…You feel an overflow of gratitude and wish you could repay them. A small token will not do; it has to be big!
That is how Paul felt when he received an encouraging report from Timothy regarding the faith of the church in Thessalonica. The apostle was so moved by their faith he poses a question many of us wrestle with: How can we possibly thank God enough for the joy He gives us?
“How can we thank God for you in return for all the joy we experience before our God because of you…” – I Thessalonians 3:9 (HCSB)
In his style of writing, Paul answered the question before he asked it: Continue in the faith, following Jesus to the best of our ability. Therefore, he prayed:
“Now may our God and Father Himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you. And may the Lord cause you to increase and overflow with love for one another and for everyone, just as we also do for you. May He make your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints. Amen.” – I Thessalonians 3:11-13 (HCSB)
Paul led and taught the people in the church of Thessalonica, and it was because of their faith he was greatly encouraged and overflowing with joy even in the midst of distress
“Therefore, brothers, in all our distress and persecution, we were encouraged about you through your faith. The church of Thessalonica showed their gratitude to Paul, by putting their faith and wisdom he taught them into practice…” – I Thessalonians 3:7 (HCSB)
We cannot repay God for what He gives, but we can glorify Him by how we live. We can show gratitude to Jesus and the people who have invested in us. We stay firm in our walk with Jesus, following Him the best we can, and putting wisdom into practice every day.
Remember, God does not want something from us; He wants something for us! The blessings we receive from God and through others are not debts to repay, but a reminder of God’s grace.
And we have an opportunity to show Christ to others. Will you take time to show who Christ is by living thankfully?
Until next time…
Dr. Jeff Fuller is pastor of Rockford Baptist Church. You may reach him through the church office at 256-377-4900 or by email at email@example.com.