What do you say to someone who is in their first month of basic training in the military? Recently, I was asked to write a letter to a young man in that exact scenario. Knowing how tough that time is, I prayed that my letter would have power and impact, and not just be a piece of paper quickly tossed in the trash.
I came across this verse in I Thessalonians just the other day, and it stuck out to me. It says:
“For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction.
You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.
And you became imitators of us and of the Lord…” I Thessalonians 1:4-6
As I began to write the letter to that young man in basic, I couldn’t get this part of the verse off my mind. I haven’t studied it enough to know more of the depth behind Paul’s words, but these two basic points have me thinking:
1) What type of man am I proving to be? At the beginning of this letter, we read that Paul is writing beside Silvanus and Timothy. Apparently, those men set an example before this church in Thessalonica. Every day that God allows me to walk this earth, there is a “congregation” around me that I have the opportunity to be an example for. What are my actions proving about me?
Just tonight when I was putting my boys down, I had to admit to God that I had been short with my kids over the past couple of days. I asked that God would use such a broken vessel like me to show my kids a tiny glimpse of a Heavenly Father’s love. I am proving something to my kids each day. I want to step back to actually consider what it is.
2) For whose sake? This thought gives pain purpose. That young man that will receive my letter will be reminded that he is proving to be a man while going through such difficulty. He isn’t “earning” manhood. He is proving what is already there. BUT, he isn’t doing it for himself, but for those around him.
Like many of us, we get to show people what faith looks like in the midst of doubt. My kids get to see what patience looks like with screaming babies in our house. As well, they get to see what humility looks like when I ask their forgiveness for not being patient. Among other things, I live a life worthy of the calling – for their sake.
My hope is what Paul says next, “And you became imitators of us and of the Lord…” vs 5b. I hope my “congregation” sees a man revealing what God has placed in Him. Not for my sake, but for theirs. And like many of you, I hope and pray like crazy that my kids eventually seek to follow my example as I follow His.
What do you think? What type of an example did you see and eventually follow?