June 02, 2020 – Tuesday
2 Thessalonians 1:3-4 NIV
3 We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing.
4 Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring.
The first item I would want to point out here is the use of persecutions and trials (tribulations in many versions). Why? Because while trials/tribulations is very broad and is ostensibly not personal, while persecution almost always means some individuals, usually a group, are systematically putting together efforts to damage or break up or destroy the church. This group would go after the basis of the church, the good news of Jesus Christ as well as any individual they could attack personally as well.
In spite of all of this, or perhaps because of it, the faith of the believers was growing more and more. It is likely the number of believers was growing as well which often happens during a time of persecution. Also Paul, and his companions Silas and Timothy, have received reports how they are supporting one another during this time of trials and persecution as the reports tell them the love all of you have for one another is increasing.
Paul had written in his first letter to the Thessalonians (3:12) the prayer May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. His prayer had clearly been answered even with the continuation of the persecution and trials mentioned in his first letter. So we see Paul’s focus on their love and their faith, both increasing or growing with the love an outgrowth of their faith in Jesus.
After this Paul goes on to say God is aware of everything they are enduring and there will be judgment for all concerned. Positive for those who have endured and as for those persecuting them 5 All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. 6 God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you 7 and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. 8 He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might 10 on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you.
Thus it is no wonder in verse four Paul said Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring. There are rewards awaiting them in Heaven and their example is something to hold up as a model on how the followers of Jesus should hold up under trials and persecution.
Once again we see the importance of standing firm in our faith. We never know who might be strengthened by our example as we should be by reading about the example of the Thessalonians. So I will repeat my plea from yesterday that we should: Stand firm and know that we are likely encouraging others to do the same in the midst of their trials and persecutions.