Growing in God’s Grace
Aug. 10, 2018
2nd Thessalonians 1:3-4 We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing. Therefore, we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions that you are enduring.
This picture is interesting to me in the fact that this early church was experiencing growth in their faith in God. The idea of growing in faith is much deeper than an external attempt at self-righteousness. No, they were growing in God’s grace. The external signs of loving one another deeply in the midst of serious hardship is evidence for them having a deeper understanding and devotion to the Lord Jesus.
Have you ever felt like you were far away from God and just going through the motions from day to day without experiencing passion for Christ? I think that there are seasons of time when this is common for many of us. I also think that the antidote for this funk is realizing that God’s grace is so powerful that it trumps the emotional baggage that we might cling to.
It's obvious that the Thessalonian church was experiencing some very difficult hardships with persecution and suffering. Their prayer life was dynamically reflective of their hope in Christ. Their prayers were so much more focused on Kingdom business than how we have a tendency to pray today.
D.A. Carson in his book titled A Call to Spiritual Reformation comments about this passage of scripture from the perspective of how this affects our prayer life. He states, “For what do we commonly give thanks [for]? We say grace at meals, we give thanks when we receive material blessings and we may utter a prayer of sincere and fervent thanks when we recover from a serious illness. But by and large, our thanksgiving seems to be tied rather tightly to our material well-being and comfort. The unvarnished truth is that what we most frequently give thanks for betrays what we value most highly.” Paul’s idea of thanksgiving was very different; he focused on signs of increasing aspects of grace among the community.
If you are struggling with feeling distant from God, I would like to encourage you to pray for growing grace to be made manifest in your life. Carson further says “Growing fidelity to the Lord and his gospel is inevitably stamped by increasing trust in the Lord and his gospel; increasing trust breeds reliability. The Thessalonians are growing in their faith, not satisfied with yesterday’s attainments but stretching upward in spiritual maturity, and for this Paul gives thanks.”
Let’s all stretch forward as a community on mission in this season of time and grow in Grace!