2 Thessalonians 2:15-17
15 So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us. 16 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace, 17 comfort and strengthen your hearts in every good work and word.
I’ll be honest, when I first read this passage I got hung up on the word “traditions.” Mostly because I feel today that we follow traditions without really knowing what the purpose behind them is. I searched other translations of this passage and a good number of them use “teachings” or “instruction” instead. So what is Paul saying here? I believe he is saying to continue practicing the things that were taught to them, such as being good stewards, loving unconditionally, promoting the Gospel of Truth, etc. I think sometimes we get too caught up in the traditions of what man has taught us instead of what God has taught us through His Word.
I like the fact here that Paul mentions teachings through letter or word of mouth. What does this mean? It means our common thought that we have to personally be present to teach someone something is not necessarily true. Maybe it’s just me, but I always thought of teaching is best when you are talking to someone. In today’s age of online blogs and college courses, however, we have an opportunity more than ever to preach and teach the gospel to anyone willing to listen!
The next two verses, I think, are an awesome prayer. The Thessalonians look up to Paul and his cadre. He uses this to give them hope and inspiration. He uses the example of how God prospered them by good hope by grace to motivate them and pray for them at the same time. I think God loves a motivational and powerful prayer like this. I think it’s something we need to catch hold of, because too often we fall into the “tradition” of praying and do it blandly and weakly.
Let’s notice also the wording in verse 17. Notice that the comfort and strengthening comes in every good work and word. He didn’t say “even though you aren’t doing anything.” No, he is emphasizing the fact that our blessings from God on this earth are a result of carrying out His purpose in our lives. Through our faithful obedience we are strengthened and comforted so we may do more. God amplifies our actions and words that glorify Him. It’s just like the parable of the talents: if you take what God gives you and put it to work for Him, He will bless you with more.
Keep in mind that it’s not just about money, although that’s certainly a part of it. In fact, Paul doesn’t even mention money here, he says work and word. So how can we work and speak to glorify God? These things don’t cost anything but our time and thoughtfulness.
What can you invest for God today?