International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday July 11, 2010
Purpose: To discern how steadfastness and resolve during trying times bring glory to God
Scripture Text: 2nd Thessalonians 1:3-12 (NRSV)
2 Thessalonians 1:3-12
(3) We must always give thanks to God for you, brothers and sisters, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing. (4)Therefore we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith during all your persecutions and the afflictions that you are enduring.
(5) This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, and is intended to make you worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering. (6)For it is indeed just of God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, (7)and to give relief to the afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels (8)in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. (9)These will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, separated from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, (10) when he comes to be glorified by his saints and to be marveled at on that day among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed. (11)To this end we always pray for you, asking that our God will make you worthy of his call and will fulfill by his power every good resolve and work of faith, (12)so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
My Thoughts by Burgess Walter
Paul's second letter to the Thessalonian church, whether written by Paul or a Pauline disciple, continues the encouragement that we found in the first letter. As I have stated before, discouragement is the devils tool, while encouragement is from the Divine.
All good parents have a way of motivating their children by encouragement and many times it seems that the children respond to the parents boasting about their children being gifted in an area by pursuing that area more. I think the negative may also be true, when parents point out the flaws, sometimes those flaws become the avenue most pursued.
Paul was being a good parent in praising this community of believers for their faithfulness and love and letting them know that they were an example for other communities of faith that Paul ministered to. Like with children, it only made them want to do better and more, because it not only pleased God, but it also pleased Paul.
Paul also realized that people get tired of always being the persecuted and troubled; they would like to know that at some point they will be rewarded for their faithfulness and those that are doing the persecution and trouble making will be held accountable. Paul assures them that enduring persecutions and afflictions only confirms their faithfulness and makes then worthy to enjoy what God has prepared for them. He also reminds them, that the unjust don't go unpunished forever. Since God is the only righteous judge we must trust Him to do the right thing in the end. This brings me to my first question for you today, when Jesus cried on the cross, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do,” what was God's response? What do you want it to be?
Remember how Paul was so concerned with the Thessalonians giving up and not remaining faithful and enduring the persecutions and afflictions that he sent Timothy to reinforce what he had taught them on his brief visit originally. Now, Paul reminds them that there is a day coming when righteousness will reign, and they will all participate in the glorification of Jesus. Paul also reminds them that all of those that have rejected Jesus will have no place at this party; they will be separated from Jesus for all of eternity. This reminds us that an eternity in the presence of Jesus will be heavenly, and not being in the presence of Jesus for all of eternity will be a hell.
God holds us accountable for the choices we make and allows us to face the consequences of our actions. God both forgives and judges, we should follow God's lead and also be willing to forgive as well, and leave the judging to God. Are there people you need to forgive for the way they have treated you? That would be following the example of Jesus on the cross. That would be glorifying Jesus.