Directed to Christ’s Steadfastness
“May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.” (2 Thessalonians 3:5)
Today much of what we read or hear is in sound bites—short, to the point, and written to get our attention. Parents are advised to keep their “lectures” short, and if possible, to teach and rebuke without lecturing. Teachers succeed when they give students opportunities to react or comment after short teaching sessions. And the Grammerly application I use continually warns me of the John Gill’s wordiness (insert emoji wink here). So, after careful consideration, I have offer only one verse from 2 Thessalonians, but let’s not miss the context of the verse. “This letter from the apostle Paul was probably written shortly after his first letter to the church in Thessalonica. He had been boasting of them to other churches, telling of their faith and their love for each other in the face of persecution. Paul reminded them that God would repay their persecutors. He also addressed two recurring problems in this church. First, they were concerned that the Lord had already returned. Paul urged them not to become “shaken in mind or alarmed,” fearing that “the day of the Lord” (2:2) had already come. Second, he admonished them not to be idle, commanding them that, “If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat” (3:10).” (1)
Most of us are not being persecuted for our Christianity. I hope you are not fearful when you hear false teachers, claiming to be prophets, proclaim that on the such-and-such date the world is going to end or Jesus is going to return. The third point of the letter, “that you are doing and will do the things that we command,” (v. 4) is, however, applicable to us all. Paul follows this urging with the prayer in verse 5, for “May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and the steadfastness of Christ.” I appreciate John Gill’s exposition on this verse, only a portion of which is quoted here. “The phrase of directing the heart to God, and to seek him…And this is not to be done by a believer himself, nor by the ministers of the Gospel: the apostle could not do it…therefore he prays “the Lord” to do it; by whom is meant the Spirit of God, since he is distinguished from God the Father, into whose love the heart is to be directed, and from Christ, and since it is his work to shed abroad the love of God in the heart, and to lead unto it, and make application of it; and which is a proof of his deity.” (2)
Brevity being my focus today, for the useful application of truth in our lives, I offer this big-picture summary of verse 5: “Our hearts, by the grace of God, should continually turn to and reflect on the truths of God’s grace in the gospel.” (3) What shakes you up? The question is this, will we yield to the Spirit to direct us to Christ, resolved to live by the gospel today? Let’s at least start by agreeing with the need to do so.
(1) ESV Study Bible Notes, 2 Thessalonians Book Introduction, (digital edition), Crossway, 2008.
(2) John Gill’s Exposition on the Whole Bible, 2 Thessalonians 3:5, https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/2thessalonians-3.html
(3) The Reformation Study Bible, 2 Thessalonians 3:5, Reformation Trust Publishing (Ligonier Ministries), Sanford, Fl., 2015.