May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God
2 Thessalonians 3 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
Finally, brothers and sisters, pray for us that the word of the Lord will spread rapidly and be glorified, just as it was also with you; 2 and that we will be rescued from troublesome and evil people; for not all have the 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 do, what we command. 5 May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the perseverance of Christ.
6 Now we command you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from every brother or sister who leads a disorderly life and not one in accordance with 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 way 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 role 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 we command and exhort such persons in the Lord Jesus Christ to work peacefully and eat their own bread. 13 But as for you, brothers and sisters, do not grow weary of doing good.
14 If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of that person so as not to associate with him, so that he will be put to shame. 15 And yet do not regard that person as an enemy, but admonish that one as a brother or sister.
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.
The text says: May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the perseverance of Christ. The world often criticizes believers as hypocrites because they do not demonstrate the love of God. Surely, we as Christians need to do better, but the love of God is not like the love that the world promotes. God’s love does not accept, tolerate and embrace every person’s choices. Romans 5:8 says: God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. God’s love is demonstrated in the cross, in the sacrifice of Christ to redeem us from our sinful choices. John 3:16 says: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life.” How could anyone think that God would embrace the very things that cost Him His Son. That would be the real hypocrisy. Romans 12:9 says: Love must be free of hypocrisy. Detest what is evil; cling to what is good.
There are many today who mistakenly believe that the Bible would support and embrace the ideology of socialism. In today’s text it says: If anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either. For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies. Now we command and exhort such persons in the Lord Jesus Christ to work peacefully and eat their own bread. Many of the programs and policies instituted by a socialist ideology discourage rather than encouraging people’s willingness to work. That these programs are called welfare is in itself misleading because those who participate in them are neither treated well of fair. In Matthew 26:11 Jesus says: “The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have Me.” No human institution, ideology or program can eliminate poverty. There are and will always be some who are rich and some who are poor. The truth is, if we were truly a Christian nation, the poor and needy would be taken care of by families and the church not the government. That is how God ordained it. The government has taken over that role, not because they do it well, the government is probably the least efficient entity in handling and distributing resources. The government does not provide things out of concern, but rather for control. Dependent people are easier to control than independent ones.
Even though the government has tried to take the ability and authority to help people from the church, we as believers need to do more and better. When He was here, Jesus did not try to change the government or social structure of the culture or society. He came to change the hearts of people, not their position in society. In Mark 8:36 He says: “What does it benefit a person to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?” This life is temporary and fleeting. In the scheme of eternity even a hundred years is just a twinkling. Psalm 90:4 says: For a thousand years in Your sight Are like yesterday when it passes by, Or like a watch in the night. 2 Peter 3:8 says: With the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. In Matthew 6:19-21 Jesus says: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” While we should help people with their needs, if we are truly concerned with people’s welfare, our focus should be on their greatest need, that they would know God’s love, demonstrated in the cross, that they would believe in Christ, His Son. In John 10:10 Jesus says: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came so that they would have life, and have it abundantly.” The abundant life in Christ is not an abundance of wealth or things. It is an abundance of security, peace, joy and contentment.
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.