2 Thessalonians 1:3-4 ESV
“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.”
As followers of Jesus Christ our faith should always be growing. We should forever be maturing in our walks of faith, changing, being wiser, nicer, kinder, more generous, more compassionate, and more helpful, etc. In our obedience we should be more persistent and steadfast. In our walks of faith we should be more faithful and consistent. And we should always be learning more of God’s word and we should be applying those truths to our lives.
This morning the Lord Jesus led me to write a poem about mothers since this Sunday is Mother’s Day here in America. Now, not one of us was or is an absolutely perfect mother (or father), nor did we have perfect mothers and fathers. But we can always be encouraged to become more and more like Jesus in all that we do and are and say whether we have children or not, or whether our children are now adults or not.
And we can always be increasing in how much we love other people and in the quality of that love, too. There is always room for us to grow in this area. At age 73 I am still learning. I have not arrived, and I won’t be perfect until Jesus takes me home to be with him. But none of us should ever use lack of perfection as an excuse for continued, deliberate, habitual, and premeditated sin against our Lord and against other humans.
For the love we should have for God and for one another is agape love, which is the love of God, for God is love, and which means to prefer to love, and to prefer what God prefers, since he is love. And so in our love for God and for other humans we prefer what is holy, righteous, godly, morally pure, upright, kind, honest, and faithful. And so we will not prefer sinning against them habitually and deliberately, if our love for them is genuine.
And to love God is to obey him. For if we truly love our Lord we will want to do his will, and we will not fight against it nor deny it nor try to find “wiggle room” to get out of obeying him. We will submit to Jesus as Lord, and we will surrender our lives to him to do his will, and we will obey his commands (New Covenant), in practice. And we will walk in righteousness and in holiness and not in sin, and we will honor Christ as Lord of our lives.
But as we grow in our walks of faith in the Lord Jesus, and as we are maturing in the Lord and in doing his will and in becoming more like Jesus, we are also going to be hated and persecuted as Jesus was. And we will even be hated and persecuted by others who profess faith in Jesus Christ but who are living worldly lives, many of them who are deliberately and habitually still living in sin. And so they will find us offensive to them.
And this is largely because, at least here in America, so much of the church has gone the way of the world and there is barely any distinction between the church and the world anymore. For so many professers of faith in Jesus Christ have bought into an altered gospel message which does not teach or which does not stress the importance of holy living and walks of obedience to the Lord, and so the ungodly and the believer often appear the same.
But regardless of what persecution we face, even at the hands of other professers of faith in Jesus, and even coming from some pastors, and even coming from some family members, we need to remain true to the faith and to walks of obedience and holiness. And to be holy is to be separate (unlike, different) from the world because we are being conformed to the likeness of Jesus Christ, which is how it should be for all of us.
2 Thessalonians 1:11-12 ESV
“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.”
To be worthy of the calling of God for our lives means that we live lives which are fitting and appropriate to that calling. And all of us who are true believers in Christ are called of God to leave our lives of living in sin behind us, and to live holy lives different from the world. And we are all called to moral purity and honesty and faithfulness. And we are all called to obey our Lord and his commands. And we are all called to love one another.
And we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared in advance that we should walk in them. And the good works of God which we are to walk in are written down for us in the Scriptures in the New Testament under the New Covenant. All throughout the New Testament we are taught the things we are to put away from our lives and the things that we are now to be doing by the grace of God, in his power.
And all of this is that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in us, and us in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. Thus the Lord Jesus himself will be honored among us because we are surrendered to him to do his will and because we are living holy lives to his praise and glory, in his strength. For the grace of God trains us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives while we wait for our Lord’s soon return (see Titus 2:11-14).
[Matt 7:21-23; Matt 24:9-14; Lu 9:23-26; Rom 1:18-32; Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14,24; Rom 12:1-2; Rom 13:11; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; 1 Co 1:18; 1 Co 15:1-2; 2 Tim 1:8-9; Heb 9:28; 1 Pet 1:5; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 2:8-10; Eph 4:17-32; Eph 5:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-17; 1 Pet 2:24; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6,24-25; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Heb 3:6,14-15; Heb 10:23-31; Heb 12:1-2; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]
Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer
Lyrics by Thomas O. Chisholm, 1897
Music by W. J. Kirkpatrick, 1897
Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.
Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.
O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.
O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.
Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.
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