The Fruit of Spiritual Investment

BIBLE VERSE FOR TODAY…  “For who is our hope or joy or crown of boasting in the presence of our Lord Jesus at His coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy!” 1 Thessalonians 2:19,20 HCSB

Paul realized that the most important aspect of his life was not just “self-preservation” or success; but that which he was able to sow into the lives of others that allowed them to “shine.” It was not just a matter of whether “he made it” to heaven, but how many he brought with him. When Christ returned the “trophies” of his life were not individual accomplishments, but that which was reflected in others. John said, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” (3 John 4 NIV)

This afternoon, I attended the funeral service for Theresa Cook, the wife of Jon Cook, a long-time friend and Business Administrator at Timberline Church. Just a few weeks after my hospitalization in 2013, Theresa was diagnosed with cancer. She fought a valiant and brave battle to the end passing away last weekend.

While distance didn’t allow for many opportunities to connect, I will always remember Theresa’s bright smile, warm personality, professionalism and dedication to the Lord. I still give Jon a hard time about leaving the staff of Lakewood First Assembly, just before I came as the Senior Pastor.

At the service Allison, their oldest daughter, with a great deal of courage, out of devotion to mom, shared one of the most moving eulogies I have ever heard from a child. She open her heart and shared her insights and feelings during the journey with mom over the course of this illness. She also shared the reflections of her sister Kimberly, that were equally compelling, with raw emotions and transparency about the emotions and struggles of watching a mom, engage in an unexpected battle with cancer.

Both of these daughters shared the “real” life struggles of terminal illness, yet a profound faith in God anchored in the eternal. Through my own emotions, I was awe struck by the evidence of parents who modeled genuine faith, unconditional love and seeing the faith firmly established in the next generation.

I believe Paul’s words about the believers in Thessalonica, are fitting for parents who have “won” one of the greatest challenges that can be faced. The same is true of all “spiritual” parents and natural parents. There is a desire to see children excel in their personal development, in their professional pursuits, in their spiritual life beyond their parents.

It is always gratifying to feel that you have been a part of someone’s success. The reward of the investment we make in others, is seeing their growth and “success” in whatever the sphere may be. We should all make it our aim to help someone growth stronger, achieve more, develop beyond ourselves. We should also, value the investment and encouragement that others sow into our lives and honor that through the fruit of our lives.

Prayer for today… “Lord, allow me to invest in others in a way that will matter for eternity. At the same time let me be aware of the investment others have made in me. Allow the fruit of my life and the fruit of others that I influence bring glory and honor to you.”