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Last week we saw Paul shift from talking about the persecution he would suffer to the persecution the Thessalonians would continue to endure. Even when we are faithless, the Lord is faithful. Paul encouraged the Thessalonians by telling them that the Lord would strengthen and protect them from the evil one. This morning we’re going to look at Paul’s confidence.
Let’s take a look at 2 Thes. 3:4-5.
Paul just finished talking about the Lord’s faithfulness and he continues the theme here. He says, “We have confidence in the Lord concerning you.” Paul’s confidence is not in the Thessalonians, it is in the Lord who is faithful. Confidence means that you can have faith in, or rely on someone, or something. Paul knew the faithfulness of God and he knew that God would be the One working in the lives of these believers. We often forget who God really is. Sometimes we pray with an almost hopeless attitude. It’s as if God hasn’t demonstrated His faithfulness over and over again. I think we do that because we tend to let our emotions control our thinking. Phil. 1:6 says, “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” You have to get to a point in your walk with the Lord that you are going to trust Him. We find it so easy to trust people, yet we don’t trust the Lord. The Lord’s plans for you are always good. Jer. 29:11 says, “For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.” Instead of asking why over and over again; stop and listen for an answer. He may tell you, but you have to be satisfied knowing He cares for you. Trust Him, put your confidence in the One that has demonstrated His love and care for you. Paul knew the Lord would work in the lives of the Thessalonians. Phil. 2:13 says, “For it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”
Paul has confidence in the Lord that the Thessalonians would keep on keeping on. Paul says he is confident that they are, “Doing and will continue to do what we command.” This wasn’t just idle encouragement from Paul. Remember that their faith was known far and wide at the time. They had, “Turned from idols to serve a living and true God.” (1 Thes. 1:9) They had demonstrated that they had listened and responded to what Paul had said and now Paul wants them to keep going. Think about your discouraging times. We can get discouraged over even the slightest situations. Someone didn’t like my idea. Someone hurt my feelings. Someone didn’t return my phone call. The Thessalonians were enduring severe persecution and that can discourage anyone, but Paul is telling them to keep on truckin’.
Discouragement is a fact of life. People are going to disappoint you. There are going to be trials. There’s going to be tough times. There’ll be times you’re going to want to give up and quit. Discouragement is not only a fact of life, but it’s also a state of mind. We wallow in self-pity. We have this idea that we deserve something – entitlement. We think that no one understands our situation, no one knows how we feel; no one knows what we’re going through. We only see the faults of others, never thinking how we might fall short of what God wants us to be, never thinking about how we might let someone else down. This attitude spills over to the church. The question you need to ask yourself is, “Am I going to let my discouragement derail what God has called me to do?” Are you going to look at how everyone else is failing or are you going to keep on keeping God’s commands? What happened to Eph. 4:2? “With all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love.” Gal. 5:14, “For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Paul knows exactly what’s going on in Thessalonica. He knows about the persecution and suffering and he encourages them by saying keep on keeping the things that he commands. It can be very discouraging to me when I talk to people that think they are really spiritual or really have this faith thing worked out yet don’t do the fundamental things of the faith. 1 Cor. 14:37 says, “If anyone thinks he is a prophet or spiritual, let him recognize that the things which I write to you are the Lord’s commandment.” In other words, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim. 3:16-17) Paul praised the Thessalonians because they were doing what he commanded them to do even though they were suffering because of it.
Paul finally says amen to all of it. Look at v. 5. Love and steadfastness are a fruit of the Spirit according to Gal. 5:22 and should be found growing in each of us. Paul knows that perseverance requires patience and longsuffering. Rom. 5:3 reminds us that, “. . . We also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance.” Patience and longsuffering come from different Greek words. Patience has to do with things and circumstances. Longsuffering is a quality of self-restraint, especially under trying circumstances. Possession of these two graces enables joy to continue in the heart, no matter what is faced or experienced. Col. 1:11 says, “Strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously.”
Paul’s confidence was in the Lord and that’s where our confidence needs to be. Sometimes it’s really easy to get frustrated with people. I need to remember that confidence placed in the Lord is never misplaced and I need to remember that it is the Lord and the Holy Spirit that works in people.