I Brought Donuts for You
For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy. 1 Thessalonians 2:19
On the way to work recently, I stopped and bought a dozen donuts to bring to my coworkers. I did it to be nice and to be part of the team, but I had no intention of eating any donuts myself. If I ate donuts every day, I’d be far heavier than I already am. Someone asked if I would eat one though, and I joked that I only brought them to make them all gain weight so that I would look better in comparison. I didn’t really mean it, but there’s a sad sliver of truth to the sentiment.
When I’m struggling, I feel better if everyone else is struggling too. If there are others who are obviously doing worse than me, it might even make me feel better about myself. The reciprocal is also true. There is always some part of me that is frustrated when others are succeeding in an area of life where I am not. Their triumph shines a spotlight on my failure. When I’m struggling with my weight, I find it difficult to be happy for those who are being successful in their weight loss. While I was drowning in my addiction, I just couldn’t bring myself to celebrate with those who’d found recovery. If I’m struggling spiritually and emotionally, it’s difficult to watch others grow and transform.
In today’s passage though, Paul spoke of the Thessalonian’s success, and he celebrated it. He’d played a major part in bringing them the gospel and so, he was like a proud parent, watching the fruit of his labor come to fruition as they grew in their faith. Paul was transformed by Christ’s love, which he then shared with others, so that they too could be transformed. In this success, Paul boasted and celebrated.
When I’m struggling with my weight, the answer to making myself feel better isn’t to stuff everyone else with donuts, making them fatter. The answer to my discomfort is to do whatever it takes to seek and find transformation myself. In my drug addiction, the solution to my self-loathing wasn’t to entice others to use drugs as well. It was to find recovery, and then to help others find it. It is in being transformed by God, and then sharing that transformation with others, that I can learn to appropriately, like Paul, celebrate the success of those around me.