Crown of joy
After all, what gives us hope and joy, and what will be our proud reward and crown as we stand before our Lord Jesus when he returns? It is you! Yes, you are our pride and joy. 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20 NLT
It is easy to regret and be remorseful about the past especially when the past is paved with so many disappointments. Yet, Paul chose to look ahead and rejoice. For the followers of God, the best is yet to come. Paul is imagining the day when he will be in the presence of God together with his friends. Instead of lingering on missed opportunities in the past, he looks at the present and thinks on how he could continue to serve God and trust God with his future. It is God who governs what will happen in the future. Paul believes that the Lord Jesus Christ will return and will reward his faithful ministry. The reward is to see the people whom he shared the gospel with and came to know Christ as their Lord and Savior. It is our faithfulness to God that will be rewarded. When the Master will return and finds His servants living their fruitful lives, He will say to them, “Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!” (Matthew 25:23). Christians are expected to be trustworthy. “Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful” (1 Corinthians 4:2 NIV). The crown of joy that Paul is describing should provide us a serious warning; we do not want to be in heaven empty-handed because we did not take the time to sow the seed of the gospel. Just like what Paul said about the believers who came to know Christ because of his witness, “It is you! Yes, you are our pride and joy.” Knowing that we took the time and sacrifice our resources so we could be used by God sowing the seed of the gospel affords us a special joy. “Those who are wise will shine as bright as the sky, and those who lead many to righteousness will shine like the stars forever” (Daniel 12:3). It is because of God’s grace that we meet people where they are and we minister to them the Word of God. It is because of God’s grace that people are convicted of their sin when they are exposed to God’s message of salvation. Consequently, it is because of His grace that we were given the privilege to represent Him in this world and the courage to tell others about His offer of salvation. When we are overflowing with God’s love and His grace, we respond in return by serving Him faithfully.