Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Thessalonians Words ~ Day 23: Perseverance

Day 23: Perseverance

3 "We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brethren, as is only fitting, because your faith is greatly enlarged, and the love of each one of you toward one another grows ever greater; therefore, we ourselves speak proudly of you among the churches of God for your perseverance and faith in the midst of all your persecutions and afflictions which you endure. This is a plain indication of God’s righteous judgment so that you will be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which indeed you are suffering. For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, 10 when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed—for our testimony to you was believed. 11 To this end also we pray for you always, that our God will count you worthy of your calling, and fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power, 12 so that the name of our Lord Jesus will be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ." 2 Thessalonians 1:2-12 (NAS)

With today's word we now turn to the second letter Paul wrote to the Thessalonians. We have already learned as we journeyed through the first letter, that the Thessalonian Christ followers faced many trials and suffering right from the start of their faith. As we begin the second letter Paul continues his encouragement to this young church, and will continue to address concerns they had. 

It would appear one of those concerns is questions about the place of suffering in the lives of Christ-followers. So he begins this letter to them much like he began his first letter: Commending them for the faith and love that is seen in them. Even more so, their faith and love is increasing and growing, as indicated in verse 3. This is indeed answer to the prayers in Paul's first letter where he prayed:
"May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else" (1 TH 3:12).  He goes on to commend them even more so, telling them that he speaks proudly of them because their increase of faith and love is in the midst of and in spite of trials and suffering. They persevere and remain steadfast in their pursuit of holy living. 

Paul encourages them, going on in verse 5 that their suffering and perseverance are signs of God's righteous judgment that they will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, as it is for the kingdom of God that they suffer. Paul again with this encouragement reminds them that relief and reward will take place when Christ returns. This is what they are to look to and gain hope from. This is what will motivate them to remain steadfast, to persevere through it all. 

In verses 6-12 Paul contrasts the final judgment for the Thessalonian Christ followers and for those who persecute them. The Thessalonian Christ followers will find relief, God will avenge their suffering, and Christ will glorified in them and them in Him. For those who persecute them God will repay them the persecution they have doled out on His people. They will face His retribution and they "will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power" (vs 9).

In the midst of suffering and trials the Thessalonians needed someone more mature in Christ to help them see beyond their current situation to the promises of a just, faithful and loving God. To their cries of 'Why isn't God doing something about our suffering?', Paul responds with the purpose for their suffering and for their perseverance. God is using their suffering. Their perseverance is proof that how they are responding to the trials will prove they are worthy of their calling into the kingdom of God when Jesus Christ returns. They may face injustice now, but when Christ returns they will see His righteous justice.

Through it all Paul encourages, imparts godly perspective, gives thanks for their growing faith, love and endurance, and prays that God's power would continue to glorify the name of Jesus Christ in their lives.

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