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Journey to Bethlehem, Our Christmas Devotional Day 5 1 Thessalonians 3:6-13

Thursday, December 6

1 Thessalonians 3:6-13

But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and has brought us the good news of your faith and love and reported that you always remember us kindly and long to see us, as we long to see you— for this reason, brothers, in all our distress and affliction we have been comforted about you through your faith. For now we live, if you are standing fast in the Lord. For what thanksgiving can we return to God for you, for all the joy that we feel for your sake before our God, 10 as we pray most earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith?

11 Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you, 12 and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, 13 so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.

What is the finest gift you could receive this Christmas? You might think this question over a bit before you answer, for I am asking you to identify the absolute finest gift imaginable for you, the gift for which there is nothing better nor more satisfying for you to receive. 

This gift would give you more comfort and a greater sense of well-being than anything else imaginable to you. It will fulfill the deepest longings of your life, quiet your most troublesome anxieties, and bring you the greatest sense of peace and contentment you are capable of conceiving. This gift would be the greatest, the utmost, the penultimate Christmas present of your whole life as you have known it.

Got it in mind now? See it? If so, one final question: is it a thing?

It wasn’t for St. Paul. For him, the greatest gift he could receive when he wrote these words from Corinth was hearing that the first Christians in Thessalonica remembered him “kindly,” and that they longed to see him as much as he longed to see them. It was hearing that they loved him as much as he loved them. It was the good news that the kingdom was spreading.

Jesus does that to people who follow him. He resets their longings; he transforms the desires of their hearts. Things lose value for those who follow Jesus closely. He teaches we are to abandon all fretting about things. He insists we see the transience of all things and the permanence of God’s love. Then, he invites us into that love, which is lavished on him and on us.

St. Paul understood that. Will we?

Lord Jesus, in this season, focus our hearts on the changeless and the eternal, the kingdom of true love, joy, and peace. Amen.