2 Thessalonians 3:1-5

Two Simple Truths.

2 Thessalonians 3:1-5

Now may the Lord direct your hearts toward the love of God and the endurance of Christ. – 2 Thessalonians 3:5 NET

The people to whom Paul was writing were still relatively young in their faith. Christianity itself was virtually unknown and misunderstood, viewed by many as some kind of  kind of strange religious sect. These new believers were living in a part of the world where tolerance for other religions was not the norm. They were under constant persecution and pressure. Their knowledge of God was minimal at best. Their understanding of the Old Testament Scriptures was negligible. They were struggling with how to make sense of their new-found faith in Christ. They were a minority living in a very hostile environment, with very few who could effectively teach and lead them. Which is why Paul was writing to them in the first place, because he knew exactly what they were going through. But in this section of his letter, Paul calls them to prayer. He encourages them to lift up Silas, Timothy and himself as they continued to spread the Gospel around the world. He asked them pray for their safety, because they were surrounded by “wicked and evil people” who opposed the message they were preaching. Paul reminds them that God is faithful. He encourages them to remember that God will strengthen and guard them from the enemy. But they needed to know that the enemy and the war he waged were both real. There lives were not going to be easy and their pursuit of spiritual maturity was not going to be unopposed.

But Paul gave them two simple things on which they needed to focus their hearts. In the midst of the spiritual warfare in which they found themselves, they needed to concentrate their hearts on these two unchanging realities: The love of God and the endurance of Christ. Paul knew that when difficulties came, the natural response would be to doubt the love of God. When facing trials, it is easy to conclude that God must be angry with us or that He has fallen out of love with us. In other words, we allow our circumstances to determine our view of God. But Paul says, that we need to direct our hearts toward the love of God. He loves us. He never stops loving us. His love is unchanging and unwavering. Paul would later write the believers in Rome, “And I am convinced that nothing can every separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow – not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below – indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39 NLT). Our greatest weapon against the attacks of the enemy and the difficulties and trials of this world is the love of God. Nothing can change God’s love for us. That should give us hope and strength, regardless of what we might have to face in this life.

The second thing we need to focus our hearts on is the endurance of Christ. As we go through difficulties in this life, we must constantly remind ourselves of all that He went through during His life on earth. The writer of the letter of Hebrews puts it this way: “and let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfect our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame” (Hebrews 12:1-2 NLT). He goes on to write, “Think of the hostility he endured from sinful people, then you won’t become weary and give up. After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin” (Hebrews 12:3 NLT). When we face difficulties and trials, we need to focus our hearts on the endurance of Jesus. We need to remind ourselves of what He went through in order that we might have eternal life. Our suffering, as great as it may seem to be, is nothing when compared to that which Christ endured on our behalf. And His suffering was motivated by love for us. He endured it all out of love for you and me. So we need to focus our hearts and minds on two things: The love of God and the endurance of Christ. We need to remind ourselves and each other constantly of these two realities. We are loved. And we have the capacity to endure just as Christ did. We have His Spirit within us. Jesus knew that everything He went through had come through the loving hand of His heavenly Father. So He endured it willingly and gladly. We two need to understand that nothing reaches us that has not first passed through the all-powerful hands of our loving Father. He has a reason for it and a purpose behind it. He knows what He is doing. He loves us and has our best interests in mind. Jesus could endure because He knew He was loved. We can and should do the same.

Father, You love me, and I should never measure that love based on my circumstances. I need to continue to learn to accept Your love as what it is – unchanging, unwavering, and constant. Nothing can change it. And it is recognition of that love that should give me the ability to endure anything and everything that comes my way, because I know You love me and would never allow anything to happen to me that was not in Your divine will and for my eternal good. Help me to remember these two incredible realities. Amen.

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men

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