“We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers, remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope” (1 Thessalonians 1:2,3).
MOST OF US HAVE MORE INFLUENCE THAN WE THINK WE HAVE. Human beings have an amazing power to affect one another, and there is not a one of us (no matter how “little” we think we are) who shouldn’t be concerned about how we are affecting others. Are we giving others hope or are we taking their hope away?
When I read the opening of Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonian church, I am staggered by the thought that he would express appreciation to them for the patience of their hope. Can it really be that Paul, the great apostle, needed the encouragement that came from the steadfast hopefulness of his hard-pressed brethren in Thessalonica? I like to think that that was the case.
In regard to the “together” part of Christianity, one of our most important mutual responsibilities is that of helping to keep hope alive in the hearts of our brothers and sisters. That should be no small part of what we try to accomplish when we assemble. “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works” (Hebrews 10:23,24).
Long ago, an older man gave me some advice. He said, “Gary, folks have enough fears of their own. So don’t share your fears — share your courage.” He made a good point. Yes, there is a time to discuss our doubts and questions and fears, but the main effect of ourselves upon others needs to be that they have a greater hope.
By the time these pages are published I will have lived almost three score years in this world. The longer I live, the more I am conscious of the need to have a hopeful impact on those with whom I have influence. I believe in telling the truth, as you well know, and I would never want to give anyone false hope. But when the final tally is made, I hope that I won’t have failed to encourage anyone who needed to be encouraged. It’s a fine thing to have hope, but I believe it is an even finer thing to give hope. That, above all, is what I want to do. And I’m confident that you do too.
“If I can put one thought of rosy sunset into the life of any man or woman, I shall feel that I have worked with God” (George MacDonald).