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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Monday, October 30, 2017

Today’s Scripture Reading | 1 Thessalonians 2:1–8

You yourselves know, brothers and sisters, that our coming to you was not in vain, but though we had already suffered and been shamefully mistreated at Philippi, as you know, we had courage in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in spite of great opposition. For our appeal does not spring from deceit or impure motives or trickery, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the message of the gospel, even so we speak, not to please mortals, but to please God who tests our hearts. As you know and as God is our witness, we never came with words of flattery or with a pretext for greed; nor did we seek praise from mortals, whether from you or from others,

though we might have made demands as apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, like a nurse tenderly caring for her own children. So deeply do we care for you that we are determined to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you have become very dear to us. (NRSV)

“Preach the gospel at all times. Use words if necessary.” That’s a little quip often attributed to St. Francis of Assisi.

A prophet’s prophecy has as much to do with who the prophet is as with what the prophet says. That’s something I remember from a Biblical Theology class I took over twenty years ago.

The last line of this passage from Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians brings these truths to mind. Words are powerful. Anyone who used words as well or as often as Paul did clearly understood that. But he also knew that they weren’t enough. He was convinced that sharing his very self was just as important as whatever he preached.

It’s a challenge. As faithful witnesses to Jesus, we too are called to preach the gospel using all the unique gifts at our disposal. What we say is a part of that. So is what we do, and most especially, who we are. Our presence with others should convey something about the love and mercy of God. Sharing ourselves that way, however, is an act of courage. We know how imperfect we are, and if we let others see our authentic selves, then they will know, too. But when I think about the people who have taught me the most about faith and integrity and compassion, it’s the experience of being with them—receiving the gift of their authentically imperfect selves—that is most vivid.

Spirit of God, use me in whatever way you will. May all that I say, and all that I do, and all that I am, tell about the glory of God. Help me not to get in the way. Amen.

Written by Susan Quaintance, Program Coordinator,
Center for Life and Learning

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