… we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith. We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. (verses 11-12)
I had a very serious gardening accident two years ago. Who knew gardening was so dangerous? My feet slipped on a grassy slope of our lawn and my left leg slammed into the side of a wheelbarrow, fully loaded with topsoil. I immediately fell to the ground, in great agony, my left kneecap wildly protruding because the tendon holding it in place had become detached by the blow. Ouch.
Surgery resulted and I faced three months of recovery under strict instructions from the surgeon to keep my leg immobilized, with no bending of the knee allowed whatsoever. I was very obedient. But I would have had no hope at all of carrying it out, were it not for the metal-enforced, Velcro-strapped brace which immobilized my whole left leg. The will was mine, but the effective work was totally dependent on the brace.
The illustration is entirely inadequate, but it gives a fleeting glimpse of our dependence on the Lord God. We need to engage our will in living out the Christian life, but the success is completely contingent on his work within us.
We see this clearly in these verses. The focus of Paul’s prayer is the Thessalonians themselves, but the content of the prayer is all about God’s activity. Paul yearns for the Thessalonians to be worthy of the calling that is on their lives – but what he prays is that God himself would do the work, counting them worthy of the calling they have received, remembering that the calling itself, by very definition, came from the one who calls. It was all dependent on God in the first place.
Paul then prays that all their good purposes and acts of faith would find success. But the prayer itself focuses on God doing it – that the Lord himself would bring it to fulfilment.
All of this is obvious when you step back to reflect. But in the thick of life, we can so easily forget and live as if everything depended on us. Yet, it’s not the case.
I needed to submit my leg to the brace, or its support of my leg would not be accomplished. I need to lean into the Lord, so that my calling and purposes and acts of faith may be fulfilled. So, too, for all of us.
In the process, the Lord’s intent is that we would be completely caught up with him in his own glory – us in him and him in us. All according to the riches of his grace.
O Lord, may it be.
Lord, I thank you for your calling. Fulfill it in my life. I want to live worthily – I look to you to make it so.
Thank you for opportunities and purposes you set before me. I step into them by faith, acknowledging I am wholly reliant on you to bring them to fulfilment.
May it all be to your glory. May it all be by your grace. In the name of Jesus, my Lord. Amen.
Reflect: What “good purposes” or “acts of faith” are present before you today? What will it mean to press into them, while fully leaning into the Lord? Take the steps, reliant on him.