Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind
“But we, brethren, having been taken away from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavored more eagerly to see your face with great desire. “ 1 Thessalonians 2:17 NKJV
Throughout this second chapter of 1 Thessalonians Paul is writing to them to encourage them and strengthen them. He is explaining to them the ministry Jesus has set before him and how he goes about ministry. It is good for us to read his words and apply them to ourselves. It is strong teaching for us on how to minister the love of Jesus to those around us. It is a good reminder that we are all called as disciples of Jesus to be thinking of others and tending to their care and growth in the Lord. Ministry is not just for those who are in positions of ministry. Each one of us as a follower of Jesus is part of the Body and thus the ministry team of Jesus.
In the verse above Paul says to the Thessalonians that he has been impeded in coming to minister to them personally by the devil. But Paul makes this point to them; while he is absent from them in the body he is not absent from them in his heart. Even while he has been kept from them, his heart has been on them, his thoughts have been thoughts of them. The implication is clearly that even though he cannot see them, nor can they see him, they are continually in his prayers.
That was an important point Paul wanted to make to them almost 2,000 years ago. The amazing thing is that point is just as important today and perhaps because of culture, it is even more relevant. There is an extremely valuable lesson here for us as servants of the Lord. We tend to operate in the mindset, “out of sight, out of mind”. In social media, we only think about those we see as friends. Anyone that is outside of that social parameter is never even considered in our thoughts. Even when we think of those we see as our selected and approved “friends”, it is not usually for the purpose of investing anything into their lives. It is so that we can share something of ourselves and our own personal lives with them. It is sharing about ourselves.
Look how this is at odds with the example Paul set before us. Even when he could not see the people of Thessalonica, his mind and thoughts were upon them and he prayed for them. He invested in them even when he could not see them. To be the men and woman of Jesus that we are called to be, we have to follow the example of Paul and focus on others and be sensitive to the Holy Spirit speaking to you about them. He will tell you how to pray for them and how to minister to them if we will listen and hear. To accomplish this we have to be mindful of others and not self-focused. This is contrary to the mores of our present culture, but it is the heart of Jesus that is in you as a believer. To find the greatest satisfaction in life, turn from serving self to serving others.
J Todd Hostetler