Saturday, August 1, 2020

Thessalonians Words ~ Day 27: Encourage

Day 27: Encourage

Although the theme of Paul's letters to the Thessalonians is often seen as teachings about the Second Coming of Christ, it appears that the underlying theme of encouragement may actually be the greater theme. Paul, throughout both letters, expresses his concern for how these young Christ followers are holding up under the pressure of severe trials and suffering. He sends Timothy to find out about them and to "strengthen and encourage" them in their faith (1 TH 3:2). Even in his teachings about the Second Coming of Christ or about how to live in the midst of suffering, Paul's words have less of a doctrinal sound and more of one of encouragement. He encourages them often in these letters to live holy lives with the hope of eternal glory as their motivation and encouragement. He urges them to use his letters to encourage them (1 TH 4:18) and implores them to make encouraging and building up each other a central part of their life together (1 TH 5:11).

Perhaps, though, one of the best ways I see Paul encouraging them is in His prayers for them:

"May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones." 1 TH 3:12-13

"May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it." 1 TH 5:23-24

"May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word." 2 TH 2:16-17

It was obvious that Paul had a deep affection for the Thessalonian believers, referring to himself in parental terms in his letters. He saw his role with them as gentle, encouraging and comforting. His prayers reflect his love and devotion to them, and his feelings of responsibility for nurturing, teaching and leading them. In his prayers we find it is God who will strengthen hearts, He will sanctify us and move in us to live out His goodness, and He is faithful in all that He promises to do. Repeatedly Paul's prayers are reminders to take encouragement that God is just and loving and His people will be found holy and blameless when Jesus comes again.

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