2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.
After delivering a rather scary and perhaps disturbing description of things to happen in the Last Days in the first part of this chapter, Paul now comforts and encourages his readers. Life is rough and in some ways it’s going to get rougher, so we need to keep our focus on God, receiving from Him the encouragement and comfort we need. It’s interesting to me that where the NIV says “encourage,” the Japanese says “comfort.” Those are greatly related, so I don’t doubt that both are probably valid translations. The point is, no matter how rough things get in this life, we have the hope of eternal life in Christ and with Christ, so we have no reason to despair. Meanwhile, we’re to be doing and saying the good things God has planned for us. (Ephesians 2:10) The past two years of pandemic panic have shown us that living in fear accomplishes no good thing, but is rather destructive, period. Appropriate precautions are advisable, but a climate of fear has been hyped and utilized by some to gain personal and political power. In past generations such techniques have been used many times to generate religious cults, such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses. There are certainly cultish features to some of the current mandates and the like, and those are destructive indeed. Those who have genuine hope of eternal life have no business allowing fear to control them. I personally believe we really are in the Last Days, and I have no reason to doubt that things will get really hairy before we actually see Christ return, but in the mean time we have no reason to live in fear. Particularly, we aren’t to let fear keep us from saying and doing the things God desires of us as His representatives. There are many more people to be brought to repentance and faith for their salvation!
This of course applies to me too. I am active in seeking to maintain my health through diet, exercise, and a generally healthy lifestyle, but that isn’t my primary focus. I am to keep my eye on the prize, as Paul said, (Philippians 3:14) and seek constantly to know and do what God desires and intends of me. Whatever that is, I know that He will enable me to do it. (Philippians 4:13) As a pastor, a big part of that is teaching and encouraging others to do likewise, so that the lying traps of the enemy may be defeated.
Father, thank You for this Word of encouragement. Today looks to be a pretty full schedule. Help me recognize what You have for me to do each moment and do it, not hesitating or giving in to distractions. May I indeed say and do what You desire of me in every detail, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!