If you’ve ever experienced truly hard work, then you’ve likely also found yourself asking, “Is this really worth it?” That question can come from a number of different places–more than I have space to list here. It can come from a desire to steward one’s gifts, time, and other resources well for the glory of God, but it can also come from a prideful pursuit of personal glory. It can come from a genuine desire to live a life that bears gospel fruit, but it can also come from a place of exhaustion. On the positive side, that question can lead us to examine our lives and make adjustments that bring our actions into alignment with our beliefs and values–is what I’m doing moving me in the direction of God’s call on my life? On the other side, it can lead us to question God’s calling on our lives–is pursuing God’s call worth the cost in my life?
As Paul continues to encourage the Thessalonian Christians, he turns his attention to his own ministry among them, answering that question, “Is this really worth it?” Paul wrote with confidence that his ministry among them was not in vain and with confidence that they knew that to be the case. His ministry was rooted in the truth of God and carried out with the approval of God. His ministry wasn’t self-seeking or self-exalting but was filled with compassion and affection. So, he worked night and day while proclaiming the gospel of God, and the Thessalonians received it as the gospel of God. Paul and his companions may have been torn away from the Thessalonians by the persecution at hand, but his joy continued to be the faithful service of the Thessalonians who heard, believed, and endured in the gospel. Paul was certain that his ministry among the Thessalonians–even in the face of persecution–was worth it, and if that was true for Paul, then it was also true for the Thessalonians facing opposition. And if that is true for Paul and the Thessalonians, then it is true for us–giving our lives so that others know Jesus is always worth it.