Today we are diving into 2 Thessalonians, which, like 1 Thessalonians, is a letter written by Paul to the newly founded church in Thessalonica. It is estimated that Paul wrote 2 Thessalonians from Corinth around AD 51, within just a few short months of having written 1 Thessalonians. Since the subject matter of the second letter addresses many of the same issues as the first, this quick succession of letters was likely due to Pual having received a letter in response from the church in Thessalonica, 2 Thessalonians being Paul’s response to their continued questions and concerns.
Where 1 Thessalonians focused on encouraging the believers in their faith, even in the faith of persecution, touching briefly on the hope of heaven with the second coming of the Lord, 2 Thessalonians focused much more on the end times and warnings against false teachers, which you will read about in more detail in Chapter 2.
But today, as we take a closer look at Chapter 1, we find Paul, as was his custom, opening this letter with a brief introduction in verses 1 and 2 followed by a word of exhortation and encouragement in verses 3-4. You can almost feel the level of love,, excitement, and pride Paul had for the Thessalonicans in verse 4 when he writes, “...we boast about you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions that you are enduring.”
Then, in verses 5 - 10, having just mentioned their persecutions and tribulations, Paul continues with words of comfort and encouragement. Words which I am sure were received humbly and with great respect as Paul was one who too had known a great deal of suffering for the cause of Christ. Here Paul reminds the Thessalonian church that their suffering is not in vain but will result in a reward far greater than they could ever dream, hope, imagine. In fact, through their patience and perseverance they have been “counted worthy of the Kingdom of God”, as stated in verse 5, pointing to the truth that we cannot “suffer” our way into heaven just as we cannot “earn” our way there through works. But it is in our patient perseverance and steadfast dependance on the Lord all throughout the difficult moments that reveal with clarity our status as Christians.
While reading this passage I immediately thought of the old saying “Anything worth having is worth fighting for.” And I’ve even heard it said, “Anything worth having is worth DYING for.” But when it comes to our walk with the Lord I would even take it a step further and say - “Anything worth anything is worth everything!” When we look at all of the temporal things that this life offers we can easily become distracted by the shiny, the new, the exciting that is taking place all around us. But, when held in comparison to the gift of salvation, the hope of heaven, eternity with Jesus, my heart can’t help by cry out the words of Philippians 3:8-9a:
“Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him…”
I don’t know about you but I desire to live a life so focused on Jesus - our healer, our provider, our comforter, our helper, our creator, our savior, our king, OUR EVERYTHING - that nothing else in this life even holds a candle to the magnitude of Him and His greatness. A life that declares, in word, action and dead, the words of Romans 8:38-39:
“And I am convinced that nothing can separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow - not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or int he earth below - indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the Lord of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
A life that boldly declares “Anything worth Anything is worth Everything and so Lord, here is my everything!”