Summary: Have you ever wished that someone had given you encouragement when you really needed it? A few words of encouragement can really make our day brighter. We see an example of this in the reading from 2 Thessalonians 1:1-4,11-12.
Have you ever wished that someone had given you encouragement when you really needed it? A few words of encouragement can really make our day brighter. We see an example of this in the reading from 2 Thessalonians 1:1-4,11-12.
Knowing that his words would fill the Thessalonian believers with the humble desire to do better, Paul praised them for their growing faith despite tremendous persecution. Earthly troubles can be great soil for the growth of faith. Paul reassures the Thessalonians that his giving thanks to them is both legitimate and necessary because of their misunderstanding of the Lord’s return. He gave thanks for their increasing faith and love in difficult circumstances. The Thessalonians have set an example for us as Christians to follow. Difficult circumstances are not excuses for us to lose faith. On the contrary, they are opportunities for our faith to grow.
The Thessalonians demonstrated patience. They endured in spite of hardships. They took their suffering and used it in positive, creative ways. In doing so, they showed love to each other. Paul also praised the Thessalonians for their abounding love toward each other. Rather than living according to their own self-interest, as suffering people often do, the Thessalonian believers had reached out to one another.
When Paul adds the word “tribulation” to the word “persecution,” he expands the meaning to include not only what people did to the Thessalonians but their everyday difficulties. Yet their persevering patience testified to God’s power and the reality of their faith---things that Paul could boast about to other churches. The word “boast” simply means that Paul could hold up the Thessalonian believers as good examples.
Trials do not make us what we are: they reveal what we are. Some of the most compelling evidence of God at work in the Christian life comes when a person is overwhelmed by troubles and yet still serves Him, fulfilling the work of faith with power. God will deal with those who hurt us in his own time and in his own way. We have a spiritual obligation to thank God in prayer when He accomplishes great things through us.
In our spiritual walk we will face many challenges to our faith. We can prepare ourselves to face these challenges by studying the experiences of faith of those who have gone before us. That includes studying the Bible. Our calling from God on our lives won’t be easy. When God asks us to do something, he will give us the grace and strength we need to do his work and make it through any difficulties we face.
When we walk with God, we are united with fellow Christians. When we walk with God, we become worthy of the calling Jesus has given us. More important, however, is the fact that we will be worthy to enter the Kingdom.
We need both grace and peace to get to our God-given destinations. We are saved by God’s grace through faith. We don’t deserve God’s grace, but he still gives it do us. Grace opens the door to salvation, but it also gives us the strength we need to live the lives God has called us to live here on earth. Peace is just as powerful as grace. Peace means that we are one with God in thought, word and deed. We are settled relationally with God and with each other, and nothing can change that. God’s grace and peace allow us to grow n every area of our lives, including our love for others. Love is the greatest thing, and that’s all that matters in eternity.