Stay Focused, Stand Firm, Hold On!

Let me call your attention to II Thessalonians.

Paul’s advice is to focus on the imminent return of Christ when you are being persecuted for your faith or when troubles assail you.  That is not as easily done as said!  When we are facing trouble of some kind, we get emotional.   It isn’t easy to stay controlled and think about something that seems so far away and rather abstract.  And especially now, when the event has been delayed nearly 2000 years. Not to mention all the detracting controversies that sometimes seem nonsensical.  In spite of this, his advice was to stay focused, stand firm, and hold on to what you have been taught.

Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle (2 Thessalonians 2:15).

It seems to me that we Christians have gotten distracted by the varying arguments over details related to the Second Coming of Christ.  Paul urged the Greek Christians to work hard and be self-reliant, while, at the same time, focusing on Jesus’s return and the implications it had for their eternal existence.  Now, in 2 Thessalonians 2, he inserts a detail about “the lawless one” or the antichrist.  The warning is to not be deceived when someone says, “Jesus has come back!”  Rejection of God’s ways– lawlessness–hadto reach a peak in the appearance of a “lawless one” who would proclaim himself to be the God of the Bible, not an abstract “force” or Apollo or just another god ( 2:4).  It seems to me that each time an evil person rises up to conquer the world or the Christian church, he is labeled as “the one.”  Was it Charlemayne, the Pope, Charles I, Hitler, Stalin, etc. etc?  All this speculation has taken the reality away from this prophecy.  Lawlessness was going to get worse.   Their responsibility was to firmly hold on to the truth and remember what Paul had taught them about the return of their Savior.

Regardless of your troubles, work to be self-reliant.  Do what is good. Think about the return of your Savior.

Paul came back again to the importance of work and self-reliance (2 Thessalonians 3:6-15).  It is obvious he considers this important to people in trouble.  I wonder if a balanced work life might help us.  Not being idle, but not working all the time either.  The secret to balance is, of course, not to work so much you have no time for anything else.  Or to avoid always being interrupted by messages relating to your work.  No other focus is really possible.  It is also wrong to pursue your own pleasures to the point of not working enough to support yourself and your family.  Remember, Paul felt that refusing to work and meddling into others’ affairs was worthy of church discipline.  The key is balance even when you have some major problems.  Then, you might be able to focus your thoughts upon the wonder of Jesus’s return.  The result is peace even in the middle of trouble.

I hope you will take the time to read both of these letters from start to finish.  They aren’t long.  Their main idea is simple.  When troubles come, control yourself.  Think about the Second Coming of Christ and all its implications.  Live simply and quietly.

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way (2 Thessalonians 2:16).

Peace in the middle of troubles is a wonderful grace.

 

About Carol Brandt

I earned a B.A. in History from Florida State University and M.Ed in.Higher Education from Florida Atlantic University. I taught high school social studies before "retiring" to full-time homemaking and raising two daughters. Now I love being a grandmother to four boys and a girl. I have also raised five collies. My husband, John, was an optometrist, who worked tirelessly for his profession through private practice and as a consultant, and served on the Board of Trustees of Illinois College of Optometry for twenty years. Ernest Reisinger was my chief mentor in this warm-hearted application of Calvinism. He gave me many books! The Founders Journal and Founders Conferences, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, and Charles Spurgeon have been other sources of Reformed thinking as well as the other warm-hearted ones listed in my book, "Warm-hearted Calvinists."

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