Permission to Celebrate
God is central to all I am. I do nothing big throughout my life or even my day without seeking God’s wisdom or attempting to function within the boundaries set by God or from the well-spring of God’s love. He is my all in all. I find no greater reward than to seek the pleasure of Him and serve Him to the pleasure of His will. Jesus Christ is my Savior and Advocate. The Holy Spirit is my supreme Teacher. I want to set that straight at the outset.
Now, having said that, I believe many Christians reserve terms as sacrosanct for God alone that were not intended to be. I am not speaking about omniscience, or omnipresence or his absolute perfection. Those go without question. That is certainly appropriate as many absolute characteristic should be. But, there are relative versions of some absolute terms that we have been given permission to attribute to his children (love, holy, sanctified, kind) even though we know the absolute expressions of these are reserved for God alone. But, there are some other that have lost acceptability for use among God’s children. Those include glory, crown, hope and joy. And, most certainly, God is the absolute expression of all of that. He is truly our all in all.
But, I don’t believe Paul was out of line at all, by using those terms relatively for the brothers and sisters. God is certainly his glory, crown, hope and joy; but so are his friends- at least to a lesser degree. Paul distributed those powerful words to the Thessalonians themselves. He said of his friends, “For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? Indeed, you are our glory and joy” (1 Thessalonians 2:19, 20). And, it doesn’t seem as though he was sheepish in letting them know that they play that important of a role in his life.
We need to give ourselves to permission to celebrate just how great the impact others have upon us for good. We must feel more comfortable in using high compliments for people who have been served and who have served us. We must not be shy in telling people how invaluable they have been in our own spiritual development. People do aid God in giving hope and joy. God does, in fact, use people to be like a crown and glory for those who have been blessed through them.
The person who invests little in others has diminished the full impact that God desires to share with his children. He wants joy and hope to increase from not only his perfect presence, but through his imperfect creation.