"Brethren, pray for us."
1 Thessalonians 5:25
Do you ever come to the end of an important letter that you have written and find yourself unsure of how to close it? You are not sure if you should just close the letter or summarize what you have written already. Then, there is that awkward salutation. Do I say "love" or "sincerely"? I remember receiving letters from my wife while we were dating and enjoying how creative she was with the closing of her letter. It seemed to me that the closing of her letter would express that final bit of emotion that seemed to stick with me. Probably one of the classic endings of letters comes from our teenage girls. In perfect teen girl fashion the letter has covered everything in a hyper shot-gun fashion and then comes the end. However, instead of just ending at the salutation, they add the classic P.S. That is not the end though because there is the possibility of a P.S.S. and maybe even a P.S.S.S.
When I study the writings of the Apostle Paul, I am often overwhelmed by the content of his letters to the churches. These letters are literally doctrinal treatise and encyclopedias of Christian living principles. It is literally astounding to see how closely he walked with the Lord to possess the knowledge of God that he had. I can only imagine how the churches would take these letters, make copies of them, and read them aloud to one another. Surely there was much discussion over these topics for days, weeks, months and even years after. Paul was so thorough and literally left no stone unturned. Even with all of this content, I often like to focus on the end of his letters. Many times we fly through these areas, because it just seems like he is wrapping it up and telling the churches that everyone said hello. However, if you look deeper, you will hear the heart of this man. It is in these areas that he gets real personal. He talks about things like being alone at his trial. He tells of how some of his closest friends have forsaken him. He writes of how God raised up himself and others from grave sicknesses to carry on the work. He gives final little challenges to encourage others to keep walking by faith. This little verse above just seemed to me to be so humble and yet you can hear Paul's heart pleading for the prayers of his brothers and sisters. When you read these sections, don't just read the words but strain to hear the voice of this servant of God. Hear him in his joy and agony asking for their prayers, because He knows that only God can help them in their ministry and that is all that he really wants.
These sections of Paul's letters should encourage us to be very honest with people. There is no need to put up a facade in front of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Let your heart speak openly to them. You may ask, "What if I open up to someone and get hurt?" My response to that is that is you will know better how not only Paul but Jesus Himself felt. Speak the truth in love, and show people your heart. Many are simply looking for someone to express what they are already feeling.
May you have courage to be honest with others today!