Saturday, September 13, 2014

The source of our Goal - 2nd Thessalonians 1:11-12

"To this end also we pray for you always, that our God will count you worthy of your calling, and fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus will be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ." (2nd Thessalonians 1:11-12)
Sometimes the industry we put forward in our lives is determined and limited by the goals we have for ourselves. For example, if our goal is to drink and party every weekend then we will only work as hard as needed to afford the beer for our next party. However, if our goal is to become financially independent in retirement then we might find ourselves working harder and longer that we might save up to enjoy our retired years. The same is true for our religious life. If our goal is escape the fires of hell and simply make it into heaven, then "holy obligation" may be sufficient for us, but is this all there is for our christian life? To merely escape death? 

Paul points us towards the ultimate goal for every believer, and that is that we might bring glory and honor to the name of Jesus. The Christian life is not always easy and sometimes it requires discipline and moderation to live a holy and pious life. If our goal is simply to escape guilt and to secure acceptance before God then the difficulties and straights of a Christian life can leave us resentful and envious for the life we left behind. These were the same feelings the Israelites felt when, after leaving Egypt, they faced trouble and difficulties. "Then they said to Moses, 'Is it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you dealt with us in this way, bringing us out of Egypt? Is this not the word that we spoke to you in Egypt, saying, "Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians"? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.'" (Exodus 14:11-12) Small goals lead to small lives, but when we purpose our lives to bring glory and honor to our Lord, then we have something to really live for. Such a goal can motivate us and sustain us through the hard and difficult times of life.

While Paul mentions many things in his prayer for the Thessalonians, in the end, he is really asking for only one thing from the Father and that is "grace". Paul understood that the answer for all we need in our life is grace. Everything we need to face every circumstance of life comes to us from the grace of God. Grace is God's favor towards us. It does not depend on us or our worthiness but rather flows freely from God and His unmerited love towards us. To have the grace of God is to have everything we need, or as Paul put it, "If God is for us, who is against us?" (Romans 8:31) Grace saves us, grace teaches us, and grace will lead us home.

To this end, Paul prays for three specific things. First that we might be counted worth of our calling. "For many are called, but few are chosen." (Matthew 22:14) In this parable that Jesus told, the one who was called but not chosen was the one who was not properly dressed for the wedding feast. Later Jesus reveals that "the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints." (Revelation 19:8) Paul prays that the grace of God would strengthen us towards righteousness. Secondly, Paul prays that God would "fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness." (2 Thessalonians 1:11 NKJV) Jesus told us that "it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." (Luke 12:32 NKJV) Paul prays that God's grace would bring to us the fullness of God's kingdom in our lives. Finally, Paul prays for the work of faith with power. Faith is what we offer to God and power is what His grace offers in return. When God adds power to our faith it produces change in our lives. Peter said that we are currently "obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls." (1 Peter 1:9) Our faith and His grace is producing salvation in every area of our life.

David Robison

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