2 Thessalonians 2:13- 3:17
Times were hard for the Thessalonian believers. To their credit, they loved each other and continued to do good, in spite of their confusion about the Day of the Lord. Paul commended them for their commitment to the Truth, reminding them that the Holy Spirit was working in and through them and that they were able to stand firm on what Paul and Timothy taught them through the Sciptures. He offered a benediction that God would comfort and establish them in goodness.
At this point, it seems like Paul was wrapping up the letter when he remembered something else. It’s a “but wait, there’s more” moment.
Paul carefully balances recognition of what the church as a whole is doing well with a direct admonition to the busybodies who caused trouble and refused to work. In a quick shift, Paul turns from the distant future (eschatology) to the immediate present. Perhaps it was the influence of the false teachers that caused some individuals to quit working and become both freeloaders and busybodies, but Paul admonished them, saying that those who were unwilling (not unable) to work should not eat. Instead, they should be encouraged to do their work quietly and earn a living, just as Paul and Timothy had done.
Finally, Paul encouraged the people to “not grow weary in doing good.” When life is hard and nothing makes sense, we must choose to do good anyway. We can trust the Father and be encouraged that we are being set apart for His glory. The Lord is faithful and will establish His own in peace and grace through Jesus.
Ecclesiastes 4 starts off with Solomon’s distress over oppression and his recognition that humanity would never see the end of it. He saw that power and envy are the root of all oppression. This got me thinking about social justice. It’s become a buzzword in our culture with plenty of talk about it, but no real societal change. Isaiah explained why: “Your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God…justice is far from us, and righteousness does not overtake us…Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands far away; for truth has stumbled in the public square, and uprightness cannot enter” ( Isaiah 59). Doesn’t it feel like that some days? No matter how much we strive for what is right and just, goodness is always just out of reach. It seems hopeless when we consider the world around us. It IS hopeless.
Isaiah, who has more insight than even Solomon, adds that the Lord sees injustice and is displeased by it. “He saw that there was no man…no one to intercede; THEN His own arm brought him salvation, and His righteousness upheld him” ( Isaiah 59:16, emphasis mine.) JESUS. It is only by Jesus that there can be justice in our lives and in society.
We who are believers need to continually pursue what is right and true and just, not for own own benefit, but so that the name Jesus is proclaimed. We cannot expect the world to provide any lasting justice because the nature of humans is to be self-serving. Our example of living as Jesus did points the way to true justice.