“Prepared to Be Steadfast”

Categories: Monday Morning Meditation

In Paul’s 2nd letter to the Thessalonians, Paul writes to encourage his readers to remain steadfast, or as we might sometimes say, “to keep on keeping on.” Part of Paul’s strategy in this is to praise what they were doing well such as their faith which continues to abound and their ever-increasing love for one another. Beyond praise, Paul also prays several times throughout the letter for God to continue to work in their lives. Paul’s understood that both the Thessalonians and God had a part to play in their continued steadfastness. For the Thessalonians’ part, Paul sought to prepare them for the journey. We might split this up into 3 categories: prepared minds, prepared hearts, and prepared hands.

Paul prepared their minds by reinforcing and reminding them of the truths that they needed to keep in keeping on. First, he reinforced to them that their suffering and affliction was not a sign that God had abandoned them rather that it was evidence of His acceptance of them (2 Thess. 1:5-12). They found themselves walking in the shoes of Paul, Jesus, and many other faithful saints of old who faced some level of persecution for following Christ. If we think that God has abandoned us our resolve will not last long. But if we know that He is still with us we have the confidence to keep pushing forward. Are we keenly aware of God’s presence even in the midst of hard times? Do we need to be reminded that God, as the faithful father, is always with us (2 Thess. 3:16-17)?

Paul also sought to prepare their minds by reminding them of the truth and traditions he had already taught them, particularly concerning the Day of the Lord. If they held firm to the teaching they would be prepared for the infinite number of deceptions and false teaching that would otherwise threaten to sweep them off their course. Do we have a firm grasp on what we have been taught? Are we constantly seeking to reinforce and grow in our knowledge of the truth (2 Thess. 2:14-15)?

Further, Paul saw the need to prepare the Thessalonians’ hearts (2 Thess. 2:16-17). He needed to prove their heart’s affections and inclinations because he understood that what we love determines how we live (2 These. 2:11-12). Part of how he hopes to prepare their hearts in this way is by reaffirming God’s love for them (2 Thess. 2:13, 16-17) so that they might reciprocate that same love toward Him and possess the steadfastness of Christ (2 Thess. 3:5). Ultimately it is those who fail to know God who will be separated from Him for eternity (2 Thess. 1:8-10). When the Biblical writers talk about knowing God, they are envision something much deeper than having an academic understanding of God, being able to engage in theological discussions, or knowing the answers to some Bible trivium. “Knowing” someone, in its full idiomatic employment, is how the Bible often expresses an intimate relationship. Do I have this type of relationship with my Father? Am I growing closer to Him each day? Is He at the center of our affections? Just as Paul reaffirmed the Thessalonians of God’s love for them, that love which produces love in us (1 Jn. 4:19), so too must we prepare our hearts by affirming, admiring, and at alarming ourselves with God’s love for us. Indeed, it is the type of love that alarms us, that wakes us from our stupor and excites our affections. Let us reflect on His love, His goodness, His kindness, His mercy, His grace, etc. constantly.

Finally, Paul wanted to prepare the Thessalonians’ hands. In fact, prepared hands, or actions, flow out of prepared minds and prepared hearts. It is those with hearts and minds set on a different course entirely that give themselves over to pleasure in unrighteousness (2 Thess. 2:11-12). Paul’s hope was that as they became steadfast in mind and heart that they would live accordingly (2 Thess. 2:15-17). They were to engage in good works and give themselves over to do what they had been commanded (2 Thess. 3:4-5). Furthermore, they were to continue to labor, doing honest work. This may take the shape of a 9-5 job, but in application, it is so much more than that. In whatever we are busy in, whether we receive a paycheck for it or not, we are to bring honor and glory to God. This was the example Paul and his companions gave the Thessalonians (3:1; 7-9) and it likewise serves as an example for us. Therefore, let us not grow weary in doing good, let us with prepared minds, and prepared hearts, prepare our hands to bring honor and glory to God (2 Thess. 1:11-12)!