Devotional # 191. 2 Thessalonians 3:5-18

Devotional # 191. 5/23/16. 2 Thessalonians 3:5-18.

 

Intro. One of the reasons I chose to put verses 5-15 together is because of the theme of Christian living. Of course God put it together because of a common theme first but I think it will do us a lot of good not to split it up into different Devotionals. We’ll do things a little differently today and not break it down by verses but instead by teaching: 1. Withdrawal from the Disorderly (vv. 6-7, 13-15), 2. Work, Don’t Gossip (vv. 8-12) and 3. Paul’s Farewell (vv. 16-18).

On a section about how to deal with other Christians Paul fittingly reminds us to accept: 1. direction from Jesus (“the Lord direct your hearts”), 2. “the love of God” and 3. “the patience of Christ” (v. 5). Pay attention to this Devotional if you’re struggling with a relationship of someone in your church or another fellow believer at work, etc.

Withdrawal from the Disorderly (vv. 6-7, 13-15)

In this section we’re told to not hang out with Christians (“brothers”) who don’t follow the Bible (“the tradition…received from us”). But why not and how are we supposed to “withdraw” from them? First, the “why not?” Well, we were told in 2 Thessalonians 2:15 (Devotional # 189) to hold to these “traditions.” And because everything from the apostles (and therefore from God) was good and beneficial for believers lives (Matthew 4:4). Paul ties this to a specific problem the church in Thessalonica was having: people not working but instead gossiping. We’ll talk more about this in a minute but here the reason to withdraw was to show those Christians that what they were doing was unacceptable, to make sure the good weren’t counted as one of the wrong people and also to set a good example to non-Christians who are always watching us to see if Jesus is real and Christianity is true.

Second, how are Christians supposed to “withdraw” from those who are doing wrong? First, in absolute love, as we saw in verse 5. Next, Paul lays it out for us to “not keep company with [them]” (v. 13). Note that we don’t just avoid them whether they notice or not, Paul says the end goal is for them to be “ashamed” (v. 14). Not that we take joy in shaming our brothers and sisters but that they would recognize their mistake and change. Remember the goal is always reconciliation (1 Corinthians 5:5; 2 Corinthians 5:20). Paul couldn’t be more clear that we don’t treat our fellow believers as “enemies” but “admonish as a brother [or sister]” (v. 15).

Work, Don’t Gossip (vv. 8-12)

As I briefly mentioned above Paul is tying the sins of slothfulness and gossip to “walking disorderly” but these are not all that we should “withdraw” from, instead these were issues happening in real time in Thessalonica.

First, why should Christians work? Because any reasonable person recognizes that no one deserves a free ride. If the majority of able bodied people work for a living what makes someone who is fully capable any different? I belong to a generation of entitlement, and it is wrong. Thank goodness I had the Bible to guide me away from that mentality. As Paul says, if you want to eat, you have to work for it (v. 10). In addition to that we are all representatives of Jesus who never took a free ride. If we want to do the right thing then: 1. We should lead other Christians by example as Paul, Silas and Timothy did (vv. 8-9) and 2. We should be a good example to non-Christians also.

Second, let’s define “gossip.” Some people think gossip is lying about someone or something but that’s not true at all. Gossip is telling the truth about something when you should have kept your mouth shut. What determines when you shouldn’t say anything? Usually common sense but if you don’t have that then follow this guide: Would you say it to the person’s face or only behind their back? Would they appreciate it if you told others about their personal issue? Is it helpful? Does it encourage and build up? Does it serve a purpose?

Now that we know what gossip is we should ask how can it hurt others? I’ve been reading a book called Captive In Iran  about two Iranian ladies who were imprisoned a few years ago for being Christians. They tell a story about an elderly woman they called “Mommy” who was always gossiping and trying to stir up trouble, turning prisoners against each other. After many attempts to stop her from this behavior it all came crashing down one day when “Mommy” had encouraged a drug addict to bully other ladies. One of the other prisoners named Tahmasebi had enough and almost killed the bully and then she went to “Mommy” and told her if she gossiped and instigated bullying ever again she would be killed. That night the warden moved “Mommy” onto another floor with all of the murderers (Source 1).

Obviously this story is quite dramatic but don’t fool yourself into thinking your gossip wouldn’t have the same effect on you and everyone around you. Proverbs 6:16-19 says, “There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers” (ESV). If nothing else makes you believe that gossiping is wrong and that you should stop let the verse that tells you God hates it, be the one!

Paul’s Farewell (vv. 16-18)

After these specific things (love, patience, withdrawing from disorderly believers, working and not gossiping) and other things from the letter (perseverance in persecutions, God would be glorified in us, our salvation, sanctification, words and work) Paul says, “may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way.” So the title “Lord of peace” is applicable because He will give you “peace” in all things. It’s also interesting that Paul states, “the Lord be with you all” because of the portions of this book (and 1st Thessalonians) where Paul gave us doctrine on the end times (the Rapture, THE apostasy, Antichrist and Final Judgment). For the Christian, Jesus will always be with us, for those who reject Him, He will separate Himself. And that is the worst punishment of all.

 Paul proves that he wrote the letter by signing it and then tells them that he does this for all his letters. This is important for us today because the early church would have been able to spot frauds and the fact that they passed these on (and kept the originals as proof) gives yet another assurance that our New Testament books are true, from God and inerrant (without error).

Lastly, as he usually does, Paul finishes with a closing statement from Jesus. Interestingly Paul doesn’t mention God the Father here but the complete authority of Jesus alone. It is Jesus who gives us “grace” which will be with all of us.

Conclusion. The book of 2nd Thessalonians has been short but good. I gave a little summary above but I believe it is a book that can be read over and over, always giving us new things. We’ll make more connections within it (and especially tying back to 1st Thessalonians) the more we read it. I hope it blessed you as much as it blessed me. Look forward to 1 Timothy next week and have a great day!

 

References.

Source 1: Maryam Rostampour, Marziyeh Amirizadeh, John Perry, Captive In Iran, Tyndale Momentum, pp. 185-186, 2013.

 

 

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Devotional # 190. 2 Thessalonians 3:1-4

Devotional # 190. 5/16/16. 2 Thessalonians 3:1-4.

Intro. Last week we talked about “THE truth” and God’s “calling” us to “salvation” (Devotional # 189). This week we start the final chapter of the last communication we have from Paul to the Thessalonians. We’ll talk about what prayer to ask for and the faithfulness of Jesus. We’ll find these things give us “confidence in the Lord”.

vv. 1-2. It makes sense that Paul, Silas and Timothy, having started this epistle talking about how they pray for the Thessalonians (1:3, 1:11) would here ask the Thessalonians to pray for them. When you truly believe prayer works then you are praying for other Christians and asking them to pray for you. What do Paul and the others request? Is it freedom from a prison cell or for money? No, they ask for:

  1. The word of the Lord”: A. to be shared all over the world (“run swiftly”) and B. for it to be honored and exalted (“glorified”).
  2. God to deliver them from “unreasonable and wicked men.”

We should keep these things in mind; the same things that we struggle with today Paul and his compatriots struggled with in the first century. We need to be praying for an honoring of God’s word, unlike anything this world has ever known. We also need to be praying for an evil retardant. We know that this world will get worse (especially considering the end times studies we’ve had recently) but we don’t know when the Rapture will happen and it is entirely possible for God to give us a great revival prior to the Rapture, so let’s pray for these things.

vv. 3-4. Paul says, “but the Lord is faithful.” Why does he remind us by starting with “but”? Because his last thought was on “wicked men” who do not “have faith.” What a fantastic contrast! Sure, we can become depressed by the wicked people who oppose Jesus in us every day, but Jesus strengthens us. The lack of faith displayed by lost people isn’t just equally combatted by the faithfulness of Jesus, “but the Lord is faithful” in words and actions completely overpowering “the evil one” by “establishing” and “guarding” us. Imagine yourself in battle, you have the best body armor on and no matter what caliber, the bullets can’t break through. Your combat boots are like when you’re at the ocean and the water slowly buries your feet so they can’t be moved. Jesus is protecting and establishing us – nothing can move us because He is faithful!
What should this give us? Confidence. It gave Paul and his guys “confidence in the Lord” that He would keep His word. Paul knew the Thessalonians were currently doing the right things (“that you do”) but it was so important to be committed and never drift away from the faith (“will do”). Yes, it’s important to have a current, steady walk with the Lord but what’s the point if you’re going to falter a year, 10 years, or 20 years from now? I’ve never started a race thinking I was going to lose. Sure, I’ve lost plenty of races but I never started with the assumption that if things got too hard I would just quit. The Christian life is the same way – it’s not an emotional rollercoaster, it’s not a series of spiritual highs from conferences and camps. It’s a slow maturing in the Lord for the rest of our lives. “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary” (Galatians 6:9, Devotional # 94). And how can we do this? Because we have “confidence in the Lord” that He will help us persevere. In fact we’re also promised a crown in heaven, “Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him” (James 1:12).
Conclusion. Did you notice that Paul and his companions didn’t have any personal requests when they asked their brothers and sisters for prayers? It’s a great idea when you’re one-on-one with another believer to ask for a few personal prayer requests but when we have opportunities for corporate prayer it should be for what will glorify God and hamper the devil. Do not lose heart today, and do not be persuaded to slowly drift away from your walk with the Lord. Be intentional in your relationship because “the Lord is faithful.”