Sunday, March 23, 2008

2 Thessalonians 3:17-18 - Personal in ministry


2 Thessalonians 3:17-18
17  I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand, and this is a distinguishing mark in every letter; this is the way I write.
18  The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.


Paul closes the letter with a self-written greeting.  This was done primarily, it's believed, to distinguish an actual letter from Paul (verse 17) from counterfeits.  Others seeking to lead the church away from the truth and to follow after them, could send letters claiming they were from Paul.  However, having seen his handwriting, the church had a way to discern between a real letter and a false one. 

Although this greeting had this authenticity objective, it also added a personal touch to Paul's letter, followed by one last personal word of encouragement (verse 18).  This reminds me of the great need that exists for ministry to have a personal touch.  For it to be clothed in Christ's compassion. 

It's so easy to impersonalize ministry, like any other task in life.  To teach, to clean, to serve in some way, but not to get involved with people's lives.  In all of Paul's letters as in this one, we see how he was involved with people.  More importantly, in the life of Christ Himself, we see this involvement.  Jesus did not limit His interactions to just His disciples or addressing the great crowds, He took time to minister to individuals in their need.


Lord, may I be Your ambassador in this world.  Being wise in my relationships, but involved personally where appropriate.  May I not confuse my own fear, reserve, or selfishness, with Your leading.  Help me to make a difference in the lives of others, especially my brothers and sisters in the church.


Scripture quotations taken from the NASB.