When I get to heaven, the first guy I want to make an appointment with is Paul. I have so much appreciation for this man – probably because I can see so much of myself in him. Probably because he was such a rough diamond and has the full box. But especially because he loved other people with such passion as well. Paul pushes ahead with everything in him to bring the Gospel to all the people who are on the way to the abyss.
His heart was filled with love for total strangers. It’s as if Jesus’ heart was transplanted into his heart. Listen to the longing of his heart: 17Do you have any idea how very homesick we became for you, dear friends? Even though it hadn’t been that long and it was only our bodies that were separated from you, not our hearts, we tried our very best to get back to see you.
It sounds like a love letter between two teenagers in love. Every moment of the day Paul thinks about the people of Thessalonica. Eagerly, Paul makes plans to get to his loved ones. He wants to help them. He wants to teach them more about God’s Word. He wants to help them with the solid food of the Gospel so that they can stand on their own feet.
Can you see the passion in Paul? Can you see the love burning inside him, for his fellow believers and for those who have lost their way as well? He leaves no stone unturned to reach them. I hope that I have that same heart for people.
I realise again that life often is all about me. Our own path to success and our interests are more important than helping others. I may be a little direct here, but isn’t that what the picture of our life looks like? Other people are in the way, looking for attention, time, energy and love at inappropriate times.
Actually, there is no need to wait for an appointment with Paul to find out why he had such a passion for other people. It’s obvious. If you allow the Holy Spirit to change your heart, it changes everything. Then the own self, the me, moves aside and you focus only on your fellow man. Then you make plans to help others.
And that’s what each of us must do. We must allow the Holy Spirit to change our hearts. We must allow others’ needs to weigh heavier than our own.
I managed to do it the other evening. I was at the movies. It was about 10 minutes before the end of the movie. Tension was high. I saw the light blinking on my phone. It was a friend whose mother was dying. I hesitated. I can return his call after the movie had ended. Fortunately, the Holy Spirit moved in my heart and I got up.
I was grateful to be able to help my friend when his mother breathed her last breath.
Unfortunately, things don’t always work out like that: 18You can’t imagine how much we missed you! I, Paul, tried over and over to get back, but Satan stymied us each time.
Even when we want to do good, there may be obstacles. Take note of that and prepare yourself. But don’t allow it to discourage you. Allow the longing to push you, like it did Paul, to make a difference in the lives of others.
1 Thessalonians 2:17-20
Who are you focusing on?
How can you do more for others?
Do you have to try again?
Lord, I confess that I want to be first in line. Mostly, it’s all about me and then I don’t even see others and how they are suffering. Come and work in my heart so that I want to and can do everything possible to help others, like Paul did. Amen.