1 Thessalonians 2:19-20
For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?…
How thoroughly Paul's work is charged with personal feeling. There are times in which this personal feeling should be allowed its proper expression.
I. THE AIM OF A TRUE MINISTRY. To get men ready to stand in the presence of Christ. The apostle lived in expectation of the appearance of the Saviour. That great hope was his own perpetual inspiration, and by the teaching of it he ever urges his disciples to live holier and more consecrated lives.
II. THE JOY IT GIVES THE MINISTER TO WORK WITH THIS FOR HIS AIM. There is a passionate kind of joy known by the man who is the means of many conversions. There is surely a deeper, holier joy known by him who watches over the growth of holy character, and the settling of holy principle, and the arrangements of a holy life — those further stages of the work of conversion. There must have been a great thrill of joy in the heart of the old alchemist as he watched the metals simmering, and changing form; and as he fancied he caught, again and again, signs that the long-sought elixir was yielding to the fires. How intense must be the joy of the sculptor who works at the rough quarry block, and sees under each chisel stroke a new proof that the image of his soul is gaining form before him! The artist must know true joy in his work as the bare canvas gradually fills with the creations of his genius. The architect watches stone laid on stone, and fair proportions and graceful forms growing up before him with ever-new delight, We know there is no joy on earth like that of the mother who watches the babe unfold in strength and intelligence; and on up through the stages of childhood and youth that mother watches with a perpetual soul thrill as intelligence and character are developed and perfected. I have sometimes tried to conceive the inconceivable, and imagine I stood beside Jehovah, and felt the thrill of His great joy as He watched creation unfold all its fitnesses and beauties before His Divine commands: as chaos broke up into movement, and rocks gathered round their centre, and water floods separated themselves from the land. Who shall tell the joy of Him who watched the stages of that wondrous growth? It is but suggested in the words, "And God saw everything that He had made, and behold it was very good." But all these fail before the joy to God, and to the good, that is found in watching the new creation of a soul, the regeneration and sanctification of a soul. All these can be but images and suggestions of the far greater joy he knows who watches the growth of souls, and can say, "What is our joy?...are not even ye in the presence of the Lord Jesus at His coming?" God must have more joy in the sanctifying of a soul, for He gave His only Son to accomplish that end.
III. THE HOPE THE MINISTER MAY CHERISH THAT IN SOME HIS AIM WILL BE REALIZED. When we stand in the presence of Christ we shall each have several persons to thank for helping us forward on the road to holiness and God.
(R. Tuck, B. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?