THE GOAL OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE
Let us look once again at verse 12. Here Paul says, “That you should walk worthily of God, Who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.” This verse indicates that our Christian life is a life with the kingdom as its goal. We need to walk worthily of God, the One who calls us into His kingdom and glory. This verse tells us clearly that the Christian life has a goal and that this goal is the kingdom of God. We are moving toward this goal, this destination. Our destination, and also our destiny, is to enter God’s kingdom. The kingdom, a major subject in the New Testament, is the unique goal of our Christian walk.
Our goal is not heaven. According to the New Testament, the kingdom is our goal. First Thessalonians 2:12 does not say that God has called us to heaven, but says that He has called us with the goal of entering into His kingdom. This kingdom involves God’s glory. When we enter into the kingdom, we shall certainly be in glory. The kingdom of God with the glory of God is far more excellent than a so-called heavenly mansion.
Paul’s work with the new believers nourished them, cherished them, and fostered them to walk worthily of God so that they might enter into His kingdom and participate in His glory. This is the goal of the Christian life.
RECEIVING A REWARD
In verses 19 and 20 Paul indicates that those who work with the Lord in fostering the believers to walk worthily of God will receive a reward. This reward will be the believers we have fostered becoming our crown, glory, and joy. What a glory it would be to any Christian worker for the ones he has fostered to be matured at the Lord’s coming back! What a crown and joy this would be to him! But on the contrary what a shame it would be if none of the believers had grown and matured.
Many of us are working with young saints. The result of our work should be the maturing of these believers. If they mature properly, they will be in the kingdom participating in God’s glory. This maturity will then become our crown, joy, and boast before the Lord Jesus at His coming. Suppose, however, that we work continually with new believers, but to no avail. If this is the situation, at the Lord’s coming back there will be no result of our work. What a shame that would be! When the Lord Jesus comes, the result of our work will be manifested. That result will also be our reward, our crown, our joy.
We see the same principle in 1 Peter 5:4. Here Peter says that the elders will be rewarded with a crown of glory. However, this reward will depend on the result of their eldership. If as a result of their eldership the saints mature, that maturity will become a crown of glory to the elders. That will then be their reward.
Chapter two of 1 Thessalonians is a healthy word for us all. From this chapter we learn how to work with the young ones and the new ones so that they may be fostered to grow into maturity and that there may be a positive result of our work before the Lord at His coming. This result will then be our crown and glory as the reward of our work today.
(Life-Study of 1 & 2 Thessalonians, Chapter 13, by Witness Lee)