May 16, 2021 • Life for Leaders
Scripture – 1 Thessalonians 2:11-12 (NRSV)
As you know, we dealt with each one of you like a father with his children, urging and encouraging you and pleading that you lead a life worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.
God is calling us today into his own kingdom and glory. His present calling points to the future, when God will reign fully over all creation and when all creation will be filled with his glory. This calling to the future inspires us to live in the present for God. Knowing the glory yet to come, we glorify God right now in all we do.
Today’s devotion is part of the series God’s Transformational Calling.
In our study of God’s transformational calling, we have seen that the Apostle Paul sometimes uses the language of calling to refer to the action of God that brought us into salvation through Jesus Christ (for example, 1 Corinthians 1:9; 7:18). In this case, God’s calling is in the past and takes a past tense verb.
But in 1 Thessalonians 2:12, Paul uses the language of calling differently. He refers to God as the one “who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.” More literally, the Greek original could be translated, “who is calling you into his own kingdom and glory” (using the Greek present tense participle, kalountos). In this case, God’s calling is both present and ongoing, rather than the once-for-all calling that happened when we said “Yes” to God’s grace in Christ.
So, there is a present-tense aspect of God’s calling, something that continues after our past-tense calling to faith in Christ. God is calling us right now into his kingdom and glory. But this present-day calling also has a future dimension to it. In the letters of Paul, God’s kingdom belongs to the future. It is primarily something we will one day “inherit” (1 Corinthians 15:50). God’s glory has a similar characteristic. For example, in Romans 5:2 Paul speaks of “our hope of sharing the glory of God.” Or in Romans 8:18 he mentions “the glory about to be revealed to us.” Therefore, God is calling us right now into his future kingdom and glory.
What difference should this make in our lives? Paul’s answer comes in an earlier part of 1 Thessalonians 2:12. He writes that we are to “lead a life worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.” If that sounds familiar, it’s because the language here is similar to what we have seen in Ephesians 4:1, where it says that we are to “lead a life worthy of the calling to which [we] have been called.” In Ephesians, we are to walk worthy of our calling. In 1 Thessalonians we’re to walk worthy of the God who calls us.
I find it interesting that Paul does not say we’re to walk worthy of the God who calls us to live rightly. He could have written this. But, instead, he focuses on God’s calling that’s oriented to the future. One day we will fully inherit the kingdom of God. God will reign over every part of our lives and, indeed, every part of this world. In that day, we will see God’s glory as never before and, amazingly, share in that glory. As we think about what lies ahead for us, as we attend to God’s present-day calling to his future kingdom and glory, we are inspired and guided to walk in a way that honors God right now. The vision of the future we will have through God’s grace in Christ stirs within us a deep desire to live our lives in this moment for God’s glory.
How do you respond to the notion that God is calling you right now into his future kingdom and glory?
When you think of walking worthy of God, what comes to mind?
As you consider what it might mean to walk worthy of God who is calling you into his kingdom and glory, do one of the actions that comes to mind.
Gracious God, thank you for calling us into your own kingdom and glory. Thank you for the invitation to experience the fulness of your future. Thank you for including us through your grace in Jesus Christ.
Help me, Lord, to live in light of your calling. Help me to see my life today in light of your future. May I be inspired and empower right now to glorify you, in anticipation of the glory that is yet to come. May I choose this day to live under your sovereign authority, in anticipation of the day when I will inherit your kingdom.
All praise, glory, and power be to you, O God. Amen.
Sign up to receive a Life for Leaders devotional each day in your inbox. It’s free to subscribe and you can unsubscribe at any time.
Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Commentary on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Working Faith, Finishing Up, and Keeping the Faith (1 Thess. 1:1–4:8; 4:13–5:28; 2 Thess. 1:1-2:17)
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.