Letters to the Thessalonians

This devotional is written by Florence Gildea.

2 Thessalonians 2:13-17

Stand Firm
13 But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you as firstfruits to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. 14 He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
15 So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.
16 May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, 17 encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.

Reflection

If you have ever faced false accusations,  you're probably aware of how those lies can seep into your self-perception, making you believe you are somehow guilty or a bad person.

Now imagine how you would view yourself if you and all those who shared your faith were being persecuted – marginalised, ridiculed harassed, assaulted, killed. Facing that every day, would you feel like God really loved you? Or would you be tempted to believe it was all a lie and give in?

This is the context in which Paul wrote his letter to the Thessalonians. He wanted to encourage them of what was true, when their circumstances seemingly pointed in the opposite direction. So he reminded them:
  • They inspire gratitude
  • They are loved
  • They are chosen – God was committed to them long before they even knew who He was.
  • The Gospel is true – they haven't sacrificed themselves for fiction.
  • They will share in Christ’s glory.
Bearing all this in mind, Paul urges the Thessalonians to not give up, to hold to the traditions and teachings they had learned from him. But Paul also reminds them that they aren't in this alone: God has been with them every step of the way. He is the one who chose and called them, the one who is making them holy and righteous and the one who will strengthen them in their good deeds and words.

When we have doubts, are tempted to throw in the towel, or don't feel up to the call God has given us, it's important to remember that as much as we have a responsibility to do what we can to deepen our faith, we don't do it by ourselves. Nothing could be more important to God than inviting us into relationship with Him and then maintaining and strengthening that relationship.

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