2 Thessalonians 3:5
May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.
Paul wishes the hearts of his Thessalonian friends to be drawn into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance. But, why does Paul highlight those aspects of the Godhead? Why not God’s faithfulness and Christ’s mercy, or God’s justice and Christ’s eternal nature? Paul is specific here for good reason. To discover his intent, we must unpack a little of the short book of 2 Thessalonians.
The main themes of the letter actually revolve around the idea of perseverance. Many of the Thessalonian believers are under acute persecution (see chapter 1:4). So, Paul exhorts them to persist under these trials. He heartens them with the sure return of Christ and the justice of God that will be realized at that time. He reminds them that though their situation is unjust and bleak, God’s justice is sure! By contrast, it seems that some of the Thessalonians need encouragement to persevere in an entirely different way. Some are “not busy at work, but busybodies.” Paul “commands and encourages” them to get on with it, prodding them to “do their work.” Interestingly enough, these are two very dissimilar types of perseverance. For those who are under extreme oppression, he urges, “persevere, hold on!” To those idle in their lives, he chastises them to persevere in actually working. One is an encouragement and the other, a rebuke.
Now, how does this tie in with our verse? How does God’s love and Christ’s perseverance speak into the Thessalonians’ situation? God’s love (the same deep affection that compelled him to send Christ to die as a ransom for our sin) should motivate the idle Thessalonians to live differently, to live sacrificially, as a redeemed and thankful people, happy to serve others in worship of their loving Father. On the other hand, Christ’s perseverance should propel the persecuted believers to follow his example and persevere through their own trials, holding tight to the Savior who endured even the cross to win their very sure eternity!