Ephesians 1: 15-16 “For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.”
For this reason: for what Christ has done, what the Spirit is doing and what is ahead of us and also for what I am hearing of you …
Paul carried appreciation for these people in his heart and it soon spills out after the first 14 verses of praise.
You are called by God for people. Its others before you. It is putting people ahead of you. Serving others, reaching others, others all the time, every time. It is never about us. Never, never entertain the thought ‘Well what about me? What about what I want? How I feel?’ for they are destructive thoughts. The prison wants you to have those thoughts for they will take you into an inner prison that is hard to get out of. How do I know that is true? Is it a doctrine given in the Bible? No, it is a letter sent from a prison.
It is incredible that someone in a prison can be not only thinking of others but writing to them to thank them for their lives. Of course, Paul is not thinking, “Okay today I shall write part of the Bible.” Nor when the people read or hear the letter do they stop and understand that this is Scripture. This is a personal letter revealing a man’s appreciation for people he loved.
But here is the point. We can learn a lot from doctrine (and Paul gives his fair share on this). We live in a world of accessibility to teaching and opinion, it is all around us. However never forget the impact of seeing someone express their appreciation for others or having a glimpse into another’s prayer life of thankfulness, especially when it comes from a difficult place. Your expressed thankfulness can turn out to be the greatest doctrine. There are times when your doctrine needs to be seen and not heard.
Value people, be genuine and influence them to keep going by thanking them for where they have been. Specifics are hugely important. Being thankful generally isn’t good enough. For what are you thankful? “Your faith and your love” that is what Paul thanks them for. He was there in the beginning as the church first started and now he has heard a report of how they were doing. Can you imagine how they felt when they heard that Paul had not stopped praying for them? This was not some random sporadic prayer. They were on his daily prayer list. Who’s on your list?
Make sure you send them a text, an email or a letter, a zoom or a FaceTime call to tell them.