Paul could have ended 2 Thessalonians in dozens of ways; instead, he focuses on one thing alone: grace. Because grace is the most powerful concept of all.

Read 2 Thessalonians 3:6–18. Reflect on 2 Thessalonians 3:18:

“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with all of you” (LEB).

Often all we need is a little grace. Grace is renewing. It reaches deep inside us. It finds the despair and pain and offers love. It says, “Yes, you may be unworthy but you are loved and forgiven.”

Paul devoted much of his writing to the concept of grace. It is the grace of God, as shown through Jesus’ death and resurrection—for our sins, so that we could have relationship with God—that drove Paul’s entire life. Grace is what Paul himself had experienced as a redeemed sinner. It is grace that I have experienced as a redeemed sinner. It is grace that we all need.

How different would our world be if we all offered people the grace we have received? If instead of holding grudges and demanding apologies, we lived with a spirit of forgiveness? If instead of hoping that people would fall on their sword, we offered grace and love? If instead of being bitter we offered hope? If instead of considering ourselves better than others, we noted the incredible and unmerited redemption we have in Christ?

Imagine what could be if the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ is what we proclaimed to everyone. Imagine what could be if grace drove our entire lives and if it’s what we wished for each and every person.

What parts of your life need to be transformed by grace today? Who can you show incredible grace to today, in the love of the Lord Jesus Christ? Drop me a comment, I would love to hear from you.

 

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This Jesus’ Economy Daily Devotional is part of the series, “Live Your Calling Now: 2 Thessalonians.”

Our world is full of noise. It seems that everywhere we look, there are people proposing truth—what they view as right in their eyes. And there are even those propagating fake information under the pretense of truth. Paul the apostle addressed similar concerns in his second letter to Thessalonians.

Read 2 Thessalonians 3:6–18. Reflect on 2 Thessalonians 3:17:

“The greeting is by my hand, Paul’s, which is a sign of genuineness in every letter: this is how I write” (LEB). 

It seems that someone had pretended to be Paul, sending a pseudonymous letter to the church at Thessalonica (see 2 Thessalonians 2:2). Throughout his letters to the Thessalonians, Paul addresses misconceptions and false information. He attempts to bring clarity to theology in the midst of the noise of falsehoods (e.g., 1 Thessalonians 2:13–16; 2 Thessalonians 2:1–4).

Paul ensures that the Thessalonians will recognize his words by offering some sort of sign of genuineness. First-century AD letters were often penned by an amanuensis (a type of scribe or secretary). At this point in the letter, Paul may have physically penned the words himself. The recognition of his personal and unprofessional penmanship near the end of the letter could have been the sign of authenticity he mentions (compare Colossians 4:18). He may have also written some other sign on the paper like a specific drawing or crest; or he could have included a stamp or seal.

Today we must be aware of signs of genuineness versus in-genuineness. We must be cautious and careful. Truth is recognizable. It resonates somewhere deep inside of us as authentic. But it’s also measureable and verifiable.

Truth resonates with God’s Word. It aligns with what’s said in the Bible. Truth also resonates in our hearts. It’s transformational.

Let’s silence the noise for a moment. Let’s look toward genuine truth and embrace it—taking it in, soaking it in, living it. Truth is genuinely lived. Let’s live it.

How can you silence the noise and separate truth from falsehoods? How can you spread transformational truth today? Drop me a comment, I would love to hear from you.

 

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This Jesus’ Economy Daily Devotional is part of the series, “Live Your Calling Now: 2 Thessalonians.”

There are moments in life that seem to lack all peace. Instead, they are only full of pain. How can we find peace in times such as these? Paul the apostle, who was deeply familiar with pain, had some thoughts on that.

Read 2 Thessalonians 3:6–18. Reflect on 2 Thessalonians 3:16. 

“Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you” (NIV).

The church at Thessalonica had endured incredible pain, as had Paul. From those who didn’t believe in Jesus, they had experienced persecution (2 Thessalonians 1:4; 3:1–2). Thus, Paul does not tritely offer these words about peace.

For Paul, peace was a real and enduring reality in his life, despite the pain. If only such was the case for all of us. Paul achieved this sense of peace from a deep understanding that Jesus would work through all things—no matter how dire they seemed (compare Philippians 4:13; Romans 8:28). Paul believed in a resurrected Lord who could bring resurrected life to even the most painful moments of death and despair.

I remember an intense moment of despair in my life, when I felt like I could no longer see the beauty of the moon or the stars. When I looked up and out, I felt nothing but pain. I questioned everything and was left paralyzed by indecision—despairing. I found my way out by praying through my pain. And when I couldn’t find words to pray, I prayed through the Psalms and the Book of Common Prayer.

And this was Paul’s solution. He went to prayer:

“Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6 NRSV).

“Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication” (Ephesians 6:18 NRSV).

It wasn’t that Paul didn’t feel pain or experience movements of anxiety or despair. It’s what Paul did with those moments. He prayed. He prayed. He prayed.

What is God asking you to bring to him in prayer today? How can peace in Jesus be your answer to even the most painful of moments? Drop me a comment, I would love to hear from you.

 

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This Jesus’ Economy Daily Devotional is part of the series, “Live Your Calling Now: 2 Thessalonians.”

Community standards are regularly held at institutions, especially Christian universities. What about community standards for our churches? Paul the apostle had some thoughts on this for the church at Thessalonica.

Read 2 Thessalonians 3:6–18. Reflect on 2 Thessalonians 3:14–15:

“Take special note of anyone who does not obey our instruction in this letter. Do not associate with them, in order that they may feel ashamed. Yet do not regard them as an enemy, but warn them as you would a fellow believer” (NIV).

Honor and shame were a major part of Graeco-Roman society. Shame would have been a powerful motivator toward repentance. If a person felt isolated, they would realize what they had lost because of their behavior and likely repent. While this can seem harsh, keep in mind that the Christian community at Thessalonica had little recourse but this option. Also keep in mind the larger context.

The Christians at Thessalonica were experiencing intense persecution, which would have included being socially ostracized (2 Thessalonians 1:4). Thus, they depended on one another. In the midst of this, there were certain people in their community who refused to work while demanding charity from the church (2 Thessalonians 3:6–12). These people would have drained the church’s resources and made their already difficult situation dire. 

It’s also likely that the church regularly ate together and shared many of their resources (compare Acts 2:46; 4:32; 1 Corinthians 11:18–22). Thus, the church at Thessalonica had to consider the entire community. A person who took advantage of the community by abusing charity had to be kept in check.

I wonder if we have lost this level of accountability (compare 1 Corinthians 5:5; 2 Corinthians 6:14–7:1)? Do we allow for people in our church community to easily disregard standard obligations such as hard work and truly loving the hurting? Do we allow for misguided theology to be used as an excuse in the process (compare 2 Thessalonians 2:1–4)? Are we allowing for people to represent our churches and Jesus who clearly do not represent our values? It seems to me that there is a lot we can learn from Paul’s guidance here.

But what’s critical is that we note Paul’s overall framework: that we love a person to repentance (2 Thessalonians 3:14). Furthermore, he is clear that we should not treat those we are calling to repentance like enemies (2 Thessalonians 3:15). Tough love can be good. But it should be administered with grace and mercy—for the purpose of helping the individual and the community.

How could we lovingly use Paul’s standards in the church today? How could Paul’s framework change the way we approach discipleship? Drop me a comment, I would love to hear from you.

 

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This Jesus’ Economy Daily Devotional is part of the series, “Live Your Calling Now: 2 Thessalonians.”

The old adage, "Work as if you’re working for Jesus” can feel a little empty when the chips are down. It’s painful to consistently work hard—especially when things don’t seem to be going your way. It’s equally hard to be charitable when we no longer feel charitable toward ourselves. Paul the apostle has some encouragement for us.

Read 2 Thessalonians 3:6–18. Reflect on 2 Thessalonians 3:13:

“As for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good” (ESV).

Paul has just finished explaining to the church at Thessalonica that they should stick clear of people who demand charity but refuse to work (2 Thessalonians 3:6–10). He has also explained the problems that emerge when people are idle (2 Thessalonians 3:11–12). Now, he tells the Christians at Thessalonica to not grow weary in their efforts to do good. The NIV renders this phrase, “Never tire of doing what is good.” The NRSV reads, “do not be weary in doing what is right.”

But it is tiring, isn’t it? From first-hand experience, as someone who has dedicated his life to the mission of Christ, I can tell you that “doing good” is exhausting. There are days that I’m absolutely spent. This is especially true when I consider all the unresolved tensions in my life. I say this as a word of caution: weariness is part of life, no matter what you’re doing. But there’s a solution. 

But Paul does not seem to grow weary in doing good. Reason: He regularly takes a step back and acknowledges the joy of Christ. We see glimpses of this when he speaks of his thankfulness (2 Thessalonians 1:3). We also see it in phrases like, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13 NRSV).

Paul knew that true strength did not reside in his own resolve or endurance. Strength is in Christ. It is Jesus who helps us to not grow weary in doing good. It is Jesus who makes us feel charitable when our personal strength runs out. It is Jesus who encourage us to love self-sacrificially when we feel that we have nothing left to give. It is Jesus who carries the cross and can carry us.

Do you currently feel weary about doing good—is it difficult for you? How can you allow God step into the gaps, helping to strengthen you to go forward? Drop me a comment, I would love to hear from you.

 

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This Jesus’ Economy Daily Devotional is part of the series, “Live Your Calling Now: 2 Thessalonians.”

Any parent knows that a child with nothing to do will get into trouble. A toddler gets into the stuff under the sink. An adolescent breaks the lamp playing baseball in the house. A teenager ends up with the wrong group of friends, making bad choices. And this really doesn’t change much as an adult. Paul the apostle knew this to be the case and has some advice for us.

Read 2 Thessalonians 3:6–18. Reflect on 2 Thessalonians 3:11–12:

“For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living” (ESV). 

There were some among the church at Thessalonica who refused to work (see 2 Thessalonians 3:6–10). And as a result, they found themselves concerned with matters irrelevant to them. Paul seems to mean that they were meddling and gossiping. They were “getting into trouble” because of their “idle hands,” as grandma would say.

Paul realizes that there is a much better way—that these “busybodies” work for their own living and concern themselves with ministry matters. It seems to me that our modern ministry setup and charity has led to similar problems. 

Today, we see a similar and related problem to what Paul dealt with. We see the work of ministry being delegated only to our pastors. But ministry should be something we all share because (biblically speaking) all Christians are ministers (see 1 Peter 2:5). Furthermore, we see access to charitable resources being so easy that many people refuse to work. A handout culture has made many people refuse to work and led to many other problems. (I’ve seen this firsthand.)

We should each look at ourselves as modern-day missionaries, reaching our communities. We should look at work as a godly and important endeavor to our lives. 

Jesus shouldn’t be an excuse not to work; instead, Jesus should be the reason why we work, so that we may minister through the process. We should be missionaries at our workplace and in the rest of life.

In what ways can your church call people to be serious about work, while still meeting real needs? How can your church inspire people to live Jesus’ mission, while having full-time jobs (in the workplace or raising their children)? Drop me a comment, I would love to hear from you.

 

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This Jesus’ Economy Daily Devotional is part of the series, “Live Your Calling Now: 2 Thessalonians.”

When a person gives of him- or herself, purely for the sake of bringing truth and love to your life, it is deeply moving. There are few acts that more convincingly demonstrate the love of Christ. Paul the apostle knew this to be the case.

Read 2 Thessalonians 3:6–18. Reflect on 2 Thessalonians 3:9–10:

“It was not because we do not have that right [to receive pay], but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate. For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat” (ESV).

Paul recognized that he and his colleagues had every right to receive pay for their work while in Thessalonica. But instead of doing so, they demonstrated the value of work (see 2 Thessalonians 3:7–8).

Here in 2 Thessalonians 3:7–10, Paul brings up just how hard he worked while in Thessalonica—as an example. He knows that certain people in the Thessalonian church need to move past laziness—especially laziness excused based on misguided theology—and start working again. And he knows that a strong command is needed to make that happen.

The problem Paul is addressing is one we see today. We witness charity being abused. And we see laziness being excused based on a so-called mission (at least I’ve seen this). Paul was so serious about keeping people from abusing charity that he told the Thessalonian believers to not let someone take charity who refused to work. (Of course, he is referencing the able-bodied and those who can find work.)

Paul is essentially saying that people who make theological excuses for not working are misled (see 2 Thessalonians 3:6). Hard work is essential to the gospel going forward, so much so that Paul was willing to work for his food while preaching and teaching regularly. 

Each of us should think of ourselves as missionaries who work, for Jesus. And we should expect the same willingness of every Christian in our community. 

What is the best tactic for dealing with someone demonstrating laziness and abuse of charity in your Christian community? How can you show people at your workplace Jesus through your work ethic? Drop me a comment, I would love to hear from you.

 

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This Jesus’ Economy Daily Devotional is part of the series, “Live Your Calling Now: 2 Thessalonians.”

Jesus has called all of us to make disciples of all nations—and that starts right where we’re at (Acts 1:7–8). In this regard, Paul the apostle advocates for bi-vocational ministry as a primary model. 

Read 2 Thessalonians 3:6–18. Reflect on 2 Thessalonians 3:7–8:

“For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you” (ESV).

When Paul and his colleagues, Timothy and Silas, were in Thessalonica, they paid their own way (compare 1 Thessalonians 2:9). Paul likely worked making tents (compare Acts 18:1–4). Paul and his colleagues also received some support from the Philippian church (Philippians 4:15–16).

By not requesting any financial backing from the Thessalonians, Paul was able to say and do whatever was necessary. He never had to fear offending the Thessalonians with the truth of the gospel. And there’s a lesson here, for each of us. Successful ministry starts with self-sacrifice.

Paul recognized that his work demonstrated self-sacrifice—he shared the message of Jesus for free. Paul told people about the love of Jesus because he wanted the Thessalonians to experience it—he had no other motive. This led to a successful church planting effort in Thessalonica.

Imagine what we could do in ministry today, if we each thought of ourselves as both missionaries and people who are part of the workforce.

How can you self-sacrificially love someone who doesn’t know Jesus? How can you make your life revolve around a sense of bi-vocational ministry? Drop me a comment, I would love to hear from you.

 

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This Jesus’ Economy Daily Devotional is part of the series, “Live Your Calling Now: 2 Thessalonians.”

Laziness is a problem with our generation. From both a charity and personal level, how do we deal with it? How do we overcome it in our lives? And what do we do when others refuse to work but demand charity? Paul the apostle has some guidance, but it’s not what you would expect.

Read 2 Thessalonians 3:6–18. Reflect on 2 Thessalonians 3:6:

“Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us” (ESV).

When Paul refers to “the tradition” here, he is primarily referencing his views on the gospel (see 1 Thessalonians 2:8). For Paul, the gospel requires that we live self-sacrificially.

Idleness has no place in a self-sacrificial life. If we are purely depending on others—while not working ourselves—we are not representing Jesus. Paul is not ruling out here the possibility that some people are called into full-time ministry; at times, he himself depended on the donations of others so he could spread the gospel (see Romans 15:28; 2 Corinthians 1:16). That’s work too. Instead, Paul is saying that an abuse of charity out of laziness is an absurdity. It is theologically indefensible.

The problem Paul is addressing is rooted in theological confusion. By “the tradition” Paul also seems to be referencing his teachings on Jesus’ return. Paul had formerly told the Thessalonians what must take place before Jesus’ return (see 2 Thessalonians 2:1–4; compare 1 Thessalonians 4:13–5:2). Yet falsehoods had crept into the church and several people had become theologically misguided. Some people even falsely believed that Jesus had already returned (2 Thessalonians 2:1–2).

It seems that under the false belief that Jesus had already returned, a group of people in the church had stopped working altogether. It could also be that they had decided it was easier to live off the charity of others and so excused their laziness, appealing to misguided theology. They could have said things like, “Jesus will return soon (or already has), so what’s the point in working?” Or “The wealthy in the church can provide for my needs, why should I work?”

Whatever the case may be, it seems to me that we experience the same problems today. We have people who have job opportunities—and can work—but refuse to work. In a Christian context, we should carefully consider Paul’s words. Perhaps they offer us some guidance? 

Paul understood that by refusing to condone laziness that the church could ultimately (and lovingly) bring people back to a right theology of work.

For these reasons, Paul tells the Christians at Thessalonica to distance themselves from people who choose to live idly or oppose the traditions he represents. Idleness does not represent Jesus; self-sacrifice represents Jesus.

In what ways can Paul’s views guide modern charity? How can we those capable of working find profitable jobs? Drop me a comment, I would love to hear from you.

 

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This Jesus’ Economy Daily Devotional is part of the series, “Live Your Calling Now: 2 Thessalonians.”

Much of life is a test of patience. It’s a test of how well we will love. Paul the apostle knew this and looked to Christ as an example of endurance.

Read 2 Thessalonians 3:1–5. Reflect on 2 Thessalonians 3:4–5:

“And we have confidence in the Lord about you, that you are both doing and you will do the things that we are commanding. Now may the Lord direct your hearts toward the love of God and toward the patient endurance of Christ” (LEB).

After expressing his confidence that God answers prayers, Paul expresses his confidence in God’s work (2 Thessalonians 3:3). Paul knows that God will work in the hearts of the Thessalonian Christians. They may be suffering. Life may be difficult (2 Thessalonians 1:4). But Christ will answer. The Holy Spirit will work in their lives to strengthen them and transform them.

What’s so incredible is that Paul says this in the midst of his own suffering. He has just finished asking the Thessalonians to pray for him—that he may bring the gospel forward despite opposition (2 Thessalonians 3:1–2). 

Paul is confident in God’s great work. Yet he also knows that for God to work in our lives, we have to desire for him to do so. We must direct our hearts toward God’s love. In doing so, we will discover God’s love at work within us—changing us, transforming us, renewing us.

Such actions require patience endurance—which is why Paul tells the Thessalonians to look to “the patient endurance of Christ.” Christ patiently endured his sufferings, with full knowledge of the great things that would come from them (see Matthew 26:36–46; Luke 22–23; compare Isaiah 53:7). May we patiently endure like Christ—looking to God, requesting that he fill us up with his love. 

What parts of your life currently lack love—how can God fill them up with his love? What are you enduring right now—in what ways is Christ a helpful example for your context? Drop me a comment, I would love to hear from you.

 

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This Jesus’ Economy Daily Devotional is part of the series, “Live Your Calling Now: 2 Thessalonians.”

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