Quality, not quantity
Today’s Reading: 1 Thessalonians 2:1-16
A couple days ago, I was chatting with a friend and we were discussing the difference between the oldest and the youngest children. The friend had just had a birthday party for their oldest child. This was one of the first parties that the youngest child was able to participate in and remember since COVID. The oldest child was excited just to have friends and spend quality time with his friends. As with most parties the participants bring gifts. This was the first time that the youngest child actually was able to associate the parties and the GIFTS. The youngest child was now excited to have a party not for the friends and the quality time but for the GIFTS. We as adults sometimes place a bigger emphasis on the THINGS and not the TIME. We as adults still may think of things as in quantity instead of quality.
This brief example we see that it’s a level of maturity that allows us to focus on the intimate time that we have with each other instead of the amount of time. This maturity does not have to do with age. This maturity does not have to do with amounts of energy or amounts of time. Maturity takes time and understanding and wisdom to truly understand what we have.
In today’s reading of 1 Thessalonians, Chapter 2: 1-16, we are witness to Paul’s letter to the Thessalonica and his instructions to them. This particular passage, Paul is reminding the people of Thessalonica of the example that he gave of just being with them and talking about God. There were no hidden agendas. There was only time and connection with the people of Thessalonians. To fully understand the letters of Paul, I always like to go back to see what was the content and the context of his time with the people. In Acts 19, Paul visits Thessalonica but only for a brief time. In Acts, it tells us that Paul was there for three Sabbaths. But it doesn’t tell us how long. Paul could’ve been there for 3 full weeks or he could’ve come in on Saturday and left on a Saturday which would’ve been two full weeks. But the main thing is Paul was only there for a short amount of time. And when he was there he was running from persecution and then he was running away from persecution in Thessalonica.
The time that Paul spent in this place could be seen as short. But we also have to see what Thessalonica was in the grand scheme of things. The city of Thessalonica at the time of Paul could equate it to New York City or Los Angeles. It was the second largest city in all of Rome at the time. The amount of time that he preached and taught and communed with the people was astounding. The time Paul spent here in the city each day could have reached as many people that he could get in a smaller city in over a month. So these weeks that Paul spent in Thessalonica he accomplished the magnitude of what could have been done in two years.
The take away from this passage is: God uses us in the amount of time that he wants for that particular situation. We may think that God only uses us for a long amount of time to make the biggest impact, but sometimes the smallest things that we consider small, God actually has amazing things for. Let us not discount the time that we spend doing God’s will because he has a greater purpose for us. The small words of encouragement or gratitude sometimes may seem insignificant to us, but they have grand impacts on all others.
It’s not the amount of time that we spend with each other, but it is the quality and the engagement that we have with each other.
This was a daily verse that I read this week that summaries this quality not quantity:
“Don’t overlook the obvious here, friends. With God, one day is as good as a thousand years, a thousand years as a day. God isn’t late with his promise as some measure lateness. He is restraining himself on account of you, holding back the End because he doesn’t want anyone lost. He’s giving everyone space and time to change.”
2 Peter 3:8-9 MSG