August 18, 2022 – Thursday
2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 NIV
16 May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope,
17 encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.
Two things are happening in the above two verses – one long sentence. First Paul is stating what Jesus Christ and God the Father has done for the Thessalonians (and for us). He loved and continues to love us and by His grace, His unmerited favor, He has given us eternal encouragement and good hope. The gift of grace, the unearned salvation is what gives us eternal encouragement and hope, working in our lives daily no matter how bad the circumstances.
Then Paul is asking Jesus and the Father to encourage their hearts and strengthen them in every good deed and word. He is asking for something beyond what has already been given by grace. This is understandable when we recall the Thessalonian Christians were encountering intense persecution from Greeks who worshipped other gods, from Jews who were not Christians, and from those who simply hated the way they now lived with their newfound faith.
What is interesting is their deeds or works are expected to be good and reflective of their faith. Then their words were to be the same, reflective of their faith. All too often we think of our words and works as two separate things, but Paul shows we should consider them together. And of course, we should in some way be speaking about the gospel of Jesus Christ – His words of hope for all mankind.
Reading this again and again, it appears to be a short prayer for the Thessalonians. And in many versions the word encourage is replaced with comfort, both would fit for the circumstances they are experiencing. Encouragement is comforting during trials and tribulations, just as comfort can be encouraging as well. I can speak from personal experience that words of comfort or encouragement have been a tremendous emotional lift in difficult times that strengthened my ability to press forward. As a result, I try to season my conversations with plenty of grace, knowing how grace changed everything for me (Colossians 4:6).
Bottom Line: Be encouraged and comforted by God’s eternal love and mercy in all circumstances.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, Your love knows no limits and we are so thankful for the grace You have granted us through Your Son. – In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Riley D. Driver – Pastor
Calvary Chapel of Dayton