Jeremiah 22:1-30; 2 Thessalonians 1:1-6; Psalms 82:6-8; Proverbs 20:1
NT: “We ought to thank God always for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, since your faith is flourishing and the love each one of you has for one another is increasing. Therefore, we ourselves boast about you among God’s churches — about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and afflictions that you are enduring. It is clear evidence of God’s righteous judgment that you will be counted worthy of God’s kingdom, for which you also are suffering, since it is just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you and to give relief to you who are afflicted, along with us.” (2 Thessalonians 1:3-7a CSB)
It is believed that this second letter to the Thessalonians was written within a few weeks of Paul’s first letter. In 1 Thessalonians, Paul addressed the confusion and concerns that some had regarding the return of the Lord. They were confused about the afterlife and were concerned that their friends who had died in the faith would not get to experience the Lord’s return. After Paul’s first letter, he became aware that there was an erroneous teaching amongst the Thessalonian believers that the Day of the Lord has come. That teaching prompted some in the church to completely stop working and just wait for the Lord to call them up to meet Him in the clouds. This second letter was written to address the errant teaching and to explain how we are to conduct ourselves until the Lord does come again.
The Thessalonians were under a lot of persecution for their faith in Christ – so much so, Paul and his team were forced to flee from Thessalonica under the cover of night. After Paul left, the persecution did not subside. If anything, it intensified. This increased persecution may have even contributed to the Thessalonians buying into the false teaching that the Day of the Lord had come. That is understandable, even in our day, as many thought the Day of the Lord was soon approaching when 2020 began to unravel in weather disasters, a global pandemic, economic collapse, and societal upheaval. As Paul began his second letter to the Thessalonian church, he commended them for their faith and encouraged them in their afflictions.
Despite all the persecution they experienced, the fledgling believers in Thessalonica had persevered in their faith as they endured all kinds of affliction. Not only did they persevere – they flourished as their love for God and their love in Christ for one another kept growing. For that, Paul was extremely thankful – and even boasted about them to other communities of believers. Paul reminded them that their faithful endurance was not all for naught. Firstly, their steadfast faith in the Lord that manifested in increasing love was a sign and wonder for the world of God’s faithfulness to them. The fact that they were flourishing in the midst of adversity and affliction was evidence for God’s unwavering righteousness. Secondly, Paul wanted them to know that the more they endured persecution for the sake of the kingdom… the more they remained steadfastly faithful to the Lord as everything around them tried to push them out of faith, the more they were counted worthy of all the blessings of the kingdom of God. The more they endured, the more they had to look forward to when the Day of the Lord did finally come. As they remained faithful to God, God would be faithful and just on their behalf.
It is human nature to run away from persecution and affliction. Persecution doesn’t always look the same. Sometimes persecution looks like people calling you narrow-minded and hateful for remaining steadfastly faithful to God’s definition of righteousness and sin. Running away from persecution weakens the church and reduces your faith. Persevering through persecution by faith as you trust God with His righteous judgement and justice ends up growing the church, strengthening your faith and bringing glory to God. As the days grow darker, will we be counted worthy of the kingdom?
Prayer: Lord, I thank You that You are always faithful to Your word. I never have to wonder of you are going to be faithful to me. Because You are always faithful, I can be faithful. As the world continues to grow more and more dark… as the devil continues to drag people into deception… as people all around me forsake righteousness for the desires of the flesh, help me by Your grace to remain faithful and endure through whatever affliction may come my way. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.