Gifts of Joy

Gift-giving season is upon us. God’s people share our abundant joy by giving gifts of celebration. Please consider giving the funds for a goat or a chicken to an international family in need. Or, support surgeons who will supply a life-changing surgery for a child with a cleft palate. See www.samaritanspurse.orgfor more details and many other opportunities to be joyous. Yes, there’s a smile as you give such gifts. And, there’s a potential upcoming smile on the face of child who is recovering from a facial deformity. Blessings on your holiday season.

Authority for Work

Developed from 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13

            If you care about safety the roadside stop sign is not a suggestion. You must stop! No hesitation. Stop!

            If you care about your health’s safety the words of the diabetic educator are not a suggestion. “You must monitor your blood sugar numbers throughout the day,” she says.

            Stop signs and diabetic educators provide clear communication. Obeying the rules of the road will save your life. Knowing your blood sugar numbers will likewise, when joined with appropriate eating and essential medication, keep you from a coma, blindness and potentially death.

            Human beings do not always like pointed statements. Roadside signs and health care professionals are often ignored. We seem to prefer circuitous words. 

            “Well, maybe we can talk. I have a concern about…” is more common than direct clear speech. 

            The Bible often makes straightforward statements, probably accounting for some of its unpopularity. Like roadside signs and health care cautions, Scripture’s direct words of guidance are not suggestions. 

            Writing authoritatively, the Apostle (Paul) employs a word which first century disciples might have encountered within Roman Law. The word “command-parangello,” appears twice in this portion of 2 Thessalonians. The words form a bookend-like emphasis (verses 6 and 13) to specific instructions carrying the authority of Heaven’s Court.

            When the words were initially read for Thessalonica’s disciples, they were receiving apostolic grounding in following Christ Jesus. God’s emissary (Paul) was providing specific congregational instruction, addressing problems happening within the church(es).

            The specific and authoritative directions appear in 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13. No hesitation. No quibbling puzzles.

            First, like a red, roadside stop sign Paul instructs the church, “…it is necessary that you imitate us” (verse 7).  The teaching emphasizes his personal example and the honor of work, versus a prevailing laziness in Thessalonica’s church.

            This is apostolic leadership with wisdom and discernment for Thessalonica’s disciples, and in the providence of God, for each age of the church. There is an honorableness, a God approved wisdom in working for your living. 

            Second, Paul pens a follow-up firm instruction which likewise carries the weight of Heaven’s Court: “do not grow weary in doing good” (verse 13).  The Apostle calls for perpetual persistence in faith and work as disciple’s imitate Christ Jesus. If you would like to move more deeply into God’s wisdom on the timely provision for life’s needs, check out Proverbs 6:6-11.

Life Application

  1. What kind of work leaves you feeling spiritually and emotionally satisfied? 
  2. Focus on the authority of an Apostle to command a certain behavior. What does this tell you about the importance of following an “apostles’ teaching” (Acts 2:41-42)?

            Blessings on your readings and reflections.