The fragile church in Thessalonica was blessed, especially when compared to its oppressors. Paul listed reasons for gratitude, even while they suffered persecution.
Their relationship with God was the central basis for thanksgiving.
Paul packed two verses full of important words that described their relationship with the Lord.
2 Thessalonians 2.13-14 – But we must always give thanks to God for you, brothers and sisters beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the first fruits for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and through belief in the truth.
For this purpose he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Why should followers be filled with gratitude, even when oppressed and persecuted? Let’s list the ways.
(1) We are the beloved of God.
Like the Hebrews before them, they were part of God’s loved people.
— Deuteronomy 7:7-8 – “It was not because you were more numerous than any other people that the Lord set his heart on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples.
“It was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath that he swore to your ancestors that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.”
We are loved, not because we are worthy of God’s love. Rather, we are loved because of his grace.
(2) God has chosen us.
It is worth meditating on the Deuteronomy passage that “the Lord set his heart on you and chose you.”
We are followers of the Lord because the Greatest Being of All has set his heart on us and chosen us to live in a relationship with him.
This truth is certainly worthy of praise and gratitude.
(3) We have been saved and sanctified.
The Hebrews were saved and delivered from Egyptian slavery. We have been saved and set free from bondage to sin.
Jesus said, “Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin.
“So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8.34 and 36).
The Hebrew nation was sanctified. That is, they were God’s chosen people and set apart for his purposes.
God’s work in a human’s life is an awesome gift. Not only does he set us free, but he partners with us in his rule on earth.
We sell ourselves short if we settle for anything less than living like God has called us to live – saved and set apart for his purposes.
(4) We obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Glory is the sheer majesty of God. The Hebrews witnessed God’s awesome glory as he established the nation.
— Exodus 16.10 – The glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud.
— Exodus 24.16 – The glory of the Lord settled on Mount Sinai.
Note how God’s glory sanctified the tent of meeting. Consider God’s glory and sanctification work together. This is what is at work in followers of Jesus.
— Exodus 29.43 – I will meet with the Israelites there, and it shall be sanctified by my glory.
There clearly should be a faithful response to these awesome blessings. Indeed, that is exactly what Paul counseled the church.
Response and Prayer
The response included two actions. Out of gratitude for God’s grace, we should stand firm against what opposes God’s work in our lives.
In addition, we should hold fast to the Biblical revelation of God’s truth.
2 Thessalonians 2.15 – So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by our letter.
Paul ended his words of encouragement with a prayer. It is another excellent prayer to request from God for his people.
2 Thessalonians 2.16-17 – Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and through grace gave us eternal comfort and good hope,
Comfort your hearts and strengthen them in every good work and word.
Rudy Ross and I discuss this passage on YouTube today. Please join us in our study on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel.
Please send your prayer request to firstname.lastname@example.org. The Maywood prayer team will pray for you.