I Thessalonians 2 Devotional
by Pastor Mark Hudson
I love the letters to the Thessalonians. God, through the pen of Paul, is telling us what godly ministry is. The Spirit shows us through godly leaders and apostles, but primarily though the life of our Lord Jesus, how to be a faithful servant of the Lord. One of the reasons why I love this letter is the depth and richness of this truth, and how relatively easy I Thessalonians is to understand. While this letter may be easy to understand, it is not easy to put into practice.
Paul says that the apostles were under pressure due to the conflict in Philippi and yet, even with that tension, the Apostles did not try to win people over with error, impurity, or deceit v. 3. I’m sure Paul witnessed plenty examples of speakers, teachers, and leaders who were successful using those tried (but not true) measures. Effective Christians cannot resort to these paths and expect God’s blessings. Yet so many do. There are always Christians who will flatter, be man-pleasers, and make demands (vs. 4-6). God, through Paul, makes it clear that these are ways to eschew, reject, and cast away. God help us by keeping these motives far from us.
As you look at v. 4, see how serious Paul is about God and his ministry. Paul says he is approved by God. God actually approves Paul and his ministry! What could be greater than to say God approves of me? God entrusts the gospel to Paul and his co-workers in v. 4. Then in v. 5, Paul claims the motive for their genuine ministry – God is witness and also in v. 10. What a powerful reason to be holy. God sees everything I do or say and He, and only He, knows why. God is His witness so Paul could claim that God sees everything Paul does. This is no less true for us. God witnesses everything I do and speak. I must be holy. I must be honest. God is watching me.
As we know, God is referred to as our Father. We believe that church leaders is reserved for men. Certainly not because men are better, smarter, or more spiritual. So, it may come as a surprise to see Paul saying he acted with feminine qualities in v. 7-8. He follows that with saying they also acted like a father in v. 11-12.
Paul appeals to their knowledge by observation (vs. 5, 10-11) of Paul’s ministry at Thessalonians. Paul is instructing all those who will come after him how they should conduct themselves, how they should think of God and how they should treat others. Looking around at preachers and teachers you see good and bad examples. Doesn’t it seem that some have completely ignored the Apostle Paul?
It is striking how Paul points to himself as an example. You see this vividly in vs. 9-12. Paul claims he worked hard and also proclaimed God’s Word to them. He claims God and the Thessalonians as witnesses to “holy and righteous and blameless was our conduct” in v. 10. A person would not say that unless the person knew they had no dirt on him. But more importantly Paul claims God as a witness. This is a serious claim.
As you reflect on Paul’s letter, we ought to live knowing God sees all we do, all we say, all we think, and all we weigh and contemplate doing. We ought to have a healthy, sobering, serious fear of God resulting in a circumspect life. The fact that God sees must weigh on us. God is consequential for what we do with our time and money. The presence of God is an awesome reality for us.
Finally in v. 13, the believers in Thessalonica understood authority. They recognized the words the apostolic team were preaching was the Word of God. This is a work of the Holy Spirit for anyone to recognize and receive God’s Word. Notice the end of v. 13 – “which is at work in you believers.” This is another way to say the Word is not a dead letter, but “living and active” as Heb 4:13 says. This book is like no other. This book reads you; it interacts with you. The Bible comforts, challenges, encourages, points out sin, makes you feel uncomfortable and sublimely accepted by a holy God. Make sure you are letting God’s Spirit into your life, so the Bible works in you. Don’t resist the Spirit as He uses the Bible’s words to convict you, but also to equip you. God always wants to bless you. Those convicting pressures are for your good – so you will repent so you can more fully enjoy all God has for you.
Father help me to carry out the ministry you have given me with the same seriousness and circumspection Paul had. Help me to see the freedom of Your will compared to the bondage of sin. Fill me with love for others so I will love like a mother and encourage like a father. May I be single-minded in my mind, heart, and choices. Grant that no matter who I am with, where I am, or how badly I want to be included, I will live in a way that brings glory to You., For Christ’s sake. Amen.