2 Thessalonians 2:13-17 - But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the first fruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. To this He called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter. Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.
It's easy to forget that there was a time when those who came to faith were among the first to do so. These were the true pioneers of the faith. Moving forward in a world dominated by the vast power of Rome and populated with all sorts of gods and spiritual ritual and beliefs, the early Christians were in a world stacked against them.
There was no selection of organized churches to choose from or popular best-sellers to consult on doctrine or how to live the Christian life. And there certainly wasn't any great incentive to be a Christian—unless, of course, you wanted to be singled out for ridicule—or worse. The bottom line: following Jesus could get you into a lot of trouble.
The apostle Paul knew this all too well, and the believers at Thessalonica were experiencing some of those hassles. Paul was proud of their courage under fire: "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" (1 Thessalonians 1:4). And while citing their faith to others, he also kept them close in prayer: "To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of His calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by His power, so that the Name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Thessalonians 1:11-12).
How important, how vitally important, the example and expression of the earliest believers' faith was to be for the budding church—and for you and me today. The Thessalonians' abandonment of a fixed, old world paganism for their allegiance to the Savior was nothing short of radical—just the kind of example we need in a contemporary world bent toward its own dead ends: wealth, power, fame, and self.
Thank God, as Paul wrote, "for His indescribable gift" (2 Corinthians 9:15). Through the faith we share in the Savior's death and resurrection on our behalf, we are free to follow His lead—as we join the march of believers through the ages—to a life that's abundant, blessed, and centered on God's Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
THE PRAYER: Heavenly Father, help us through the Holy Spirit to live lives of faith—lives that resist the world and are examples of Your grace in our lives. In Jesus' Name we pray. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Paul Schreiber.
1. Who in your life has impacted your faith in a profound way? Are there books or videos you enjoy that empower your faith consistently?
2. What kind of traditions do you think Paul was referring to in the passage above?
3. How important are the traditions of the faith and the rituals of the church for your faith life?
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