Not all have faith. But the Lord is faithful
2 Thessalonians 3 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
Finally, brethren, pray for us that the word of the Lord will spread rapidly and be glorified, just as it did also with you; 2 and that we will be rescued from perverse and evil men; for not all have faith. 3 But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one. 4 We have confidence in the Lord concerning you, that you are doing and will continue to do what we command. 5 May the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the steadfastness of Christ.
6 Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from every brother who leads an unruly life and not according to the tradition which you received from us. 7 For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example, because we did not act in an undisciplined manner among you, 8 nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with labor and hardship we kept working night and day so that we would not be a burden to any of you; 9 not because we do not have the right to this, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you, so that you would follow our example. 10 For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either. 11 For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies. 12 Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread. 13 But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary of doing good.
14 If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of that person and do not associate with him, so that he will be put to shame. 15 Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.
16 Now may the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance. The Lord be with you all!
17 I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand, and this is a distinguishing mark in every letter; this is the way I write. 18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
Paul begins today’s text saying: Finally, brethren, pray for us that the word of the Lord will spread rapidly and be glorified, just as it did also with you; and that we will be rescued from perverse and evil men; for not all have faith. But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one. We have confidence in the Lord concerning you, that you are doing and will continue to do what we command. May the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the steadfastness of Christ. Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from every brother who leads an unruly life and not according to the tradition which you received from us. If we want to be delivered from evil, we cannot continue to abide in it or with it. The text says: not all have faith. In 1 Corinthians 5:9-13 Paul says: I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges. Remove the wicked man from among yourselves. In today’s text he says: If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of that person and do not associate with him, so that he will be put to shame. Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother. In John 13:34-35 Jesus says: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” Love though does not embrace unruly behavior and immorality. Love does not abide with evil. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 says: Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. If we truly love those who are of faith, those who are called by the name of Christ, we will speak truth. We will be patient and kind, but we will not rejoice in unrighteousness.
What though is to be our relationship with those who do not have faith? Paul acknowledges that we are in the world and we do need to interact and associate with unbelievers. Still, we cannot expect that we will be delivered from evil if we abide in it and with it. Jesus explained His association with sinners and outcasts saying: "I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance." (Luke 5:32) So, our association with those who do not believe should also be with the intention of calling them to repentance. Paul said we should not treat a brother as an enemy, but we should admonish them. How then do we treat our enemies, or those who are enemies of faith? In Luke 6:27-28 Jesus says: “I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” In Romans 12:14-21 Paul says: Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. How do we overcome evil with good? The food that we should give them is Jesus, the bread of life. If they are thirsty we should give them drink that flows from the Holy Spirit in us. The coals that we heap on their head are not coals of destruction or vengeance, they are coals like those in Isaiah 6:6-7: One of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar with tongs. He touched my mouth with it and said, “Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven.” The coals are coals of cleansing and forgiveness. We pray for our enemies as Jesus prayed for His, when on the cross He said: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34) We are not to abide with, embrace or tolerate evil. In Matthew 5:17-20 Jesus says: “Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfil them. For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Instead, just prior in verses 14-16 He says: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
Now may the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance. The Lord be with you all! The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.