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Summary: Paul’s Thanksgiving for the Colossians

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THE PROCESS OF GROWING (2 THESS. 1:1-10)

Robert Heilbroner suggests comparing our lives with the daily life of over a billion people worldwide to help us count our blessings:

1. Take out all the furniture in your home except for one table and a couple of chairs. Use blanket and pads for beds.

2. Take away all of your clothing except for your oldest dress or suit, shirt or blouse. Leave only one pair of shoes.

3. Empty the pantry and the refrigerator except for a small bag of flour, some sugar and salt, a few potatoes, some onions, and a dish of dried beans.

4. Dismantle the bathroom, shut off the running water, and remove all the electrical wiring in your house.

5. Take away the house itself and move the family into the tool shed.

6. Place your “house” in a shantytown.

7. Cancel all subscriptions to newspapers, magazines, and book clubs. This is no great loss because now none of you can read anyway.

8. Leave only one radio for the whole shantytown.

9. Move the nearest hospital or clinic ten miles away and put a midwife in charge instead of a doctor.

10. Throw away your bankbooks, stock certificates, pension plans, and insurance policies. Leave the family a cash hoard of ten dollars.

11. Give the head of the family a few acres to cultivate, on which he can raise a few hundred dollars of cash crops, of which one third will go to the landlord and one tenth to moneylenders.

12. Lop off twenty-five or more years in life expectancy.

People usually thank God for what they have, seldom for what they lack. They thank God for the success, abilities, and opportunities they have, but seldom for the opposition, obstacles, and odds they face. Paul did that for the churches in Rome, Corinth, Philippi, Colosse and to Philemon. Paul’s introduction in his epistle to these churches or individuals like Philemon was straightforward, almost stereotypical, usually with a commendation of their faith in Christ (Rom 1:8, Col 1:3-4, Philem 4-5), myriad of gifts (1 Cor 1:4-5), and partnership in the gospel (Phil 1:3-5). His second letter to the Thessalonians was slightly different. He gave thanks to God for their growth in the midst of encountering adverse circumstances and opposing forces.

Give Thanks for What You Have Endured

We ought always to thank God for you, brothers, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing. 4 Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring.

I learned patience the hard way. More than ten years ago, my knees swelled up and lost all strength while playing sports too rigorously. No doctor could quite explain why my knees locked, why my toes hardened, and my muscles stiffened and shriveled. I had never blamed God even though I doubted He would heal me.

The only rehab that worked so far was water exercises, which I discovered in the summer of 2003. Water exercises helped my frozen muscles regained part of its function, so that I could do more strenuous weight exercises in the gym, but I had to be patient, consistent, and hardworking.

Five or six days a week, I exercise one and half an hour in the evening or at night. I bent my creaky knees 100 times - fifty times each set. Next, I do three sets of three different weight exercises on the leg, which I do 30 times, progressing from lifting 30 lbs before to 150 lbs presently. After that I go to the spa and do three sets of leg lifts in the water while I am seated, doing 100 times each set. Then I proceed to the swimming pool and do three sets of 100 times running in the water, 100 times skiing movement, and 100 times vertical jumps. To top it off, I have proceeded from swimming 2 laps to 10 laps now. All of that from someone who hates water and gets a chill easily from the cold nights. Praise God, patience and endurance have paid off and I have regained partial mobility and strength.

Paul gave thanks because the Thessalonians’ faith grew more and more (v 3) instead of diminishing more and more and becoming less and less, and their love for one another had increased instead of decreasing and weakening when opposition came. In the midst of persecution and trials the church demonstrated fortitude, resolve and strength. Faith was more alive, people were more real, and love was more shown and shared in the worst of circumstances instead of the coziest of circumstances. The church has always thrived in adversity because persecution is the mother of perseverance and distress is the mother of determination. The church did not fold up but forged ahead when troubles came.

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