23 November 20072 Thessalonians 1:3-12
"For it is indeed just of God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to give relief to the afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels." (v.6-7)
Paul had left the Church at Thessalonica quickly after only a
short stay (Acts
17:5-10), so recent converts were left with very little support
or guidance. This letter strikes an encouraging note providing some
instruction about the way they should try and live their
In today's Bible reading we are reminded that those who try to live righteous lives will face persecution from their detractors. The writer of the epistle also suggests that Christians need to be aware that although their words and actions may stem from a sincere desire to see people being saved, some will take umbrage and oppose them. It is at times like this that Christians can be comforted by knowledge that their deeds are in keeping with God's will.
The persecution of Christians comes in many forms - from the threat of death and physical punishment to discrimination and abuse. It is easy to become angry and embittered when facing such mistreatment and a human response is often to seek vengeance on those who slight us. In today's passage it says that God is the only one with the authority to punish the wrongs committed by others.
God is indeed righteous God, but he is also a God of justice, mercy, holiness and truth. His wrath is always measured and proportionate and without partiality - traits that are often missing from human acts of retaliation, which are either calculated or done in the heat of the moment.
Equally, human acts of retaliation are often associated with destruction, while the Godly response to maltreatment is seen in the death of Jesus, which brought about life and liberty to those bound by sin.
What would Jesus do if he faced persecution?
How can we ensure that we remain faithful and loving in the face of opposition?