But the Lord is faithful; he will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one. 2 Thessalonians 3:3 NLT https://bible.com/verse-of-the-day/2th.3.3/17248
I immediately noticed that there are 3 persons mentioned in today’s verse: the Lord, you, and the evil one
And depending on where our focus is will greatly sway our attitude and perspective.
If our focus is on the Lord’s faithfulness and that He will strengthen us and guard us — we can have peace.
However, if our focus is on ourselves — paying attention to or often strength and security, we can fall into things like worry & shame — or pride & envy.
And if our focus is on the evil one, our mindset may be one of fear and judgement — paying more attention to “what is wrong with the world” and “what is wrong with others” than we trust that God has a plan and a purpose and that it is He who is ultimately in control.
In this verse, those first five writers are all important “But the Lord is faithful”.
Do we believe that?
Do we know that to be true?
Our words might answer quickly, “Yes”. But it is easy to lie in our words.
And our hearts may even cry out, “Yes”. But even our hearts can be deceiving.
What does our behavior say?
What do we do when the waves and winds of the storm come? What do we do when the furnace fires are burning hot and we are about to be tossed in?
There is nothing like chaos around us to reveal to us where our focus truly lies, and whether we trust the Lord, whether our trust is in our own abilities, or whether we believe that the enemy is winning. And nothing reveals the truth of that matter more than behavior.
We cannot proudly post a list of core values and advertise them when it is easy and convenient to espouse them — or shout into the social media world about our faith and values — and immediately draw up divorce papers the second it actually requires behaving in a way that lines up with those values. Not if we actually trust the Lord, and not if we actually want to be anything more than an untrustworthy hypocrite.
Could we look like a fool for behaving like we trust the Lord? I’m reminded of:
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.”
Daniel 3:16-18 NLT
Could we look like fools? Could we end up martyrs?
God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. “God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.
Matthew 5:10-12 NLT
The question is:
Who do we trust and who do we fear?
Trust God and fear God.
Do not trust our strengths and abilities, and not not fear our failures and shortcomings.
Do not trust that the way of the evil one is better just because it seems easier to compromise one’s values, take the easy way out, lie, deceive, oppress others, etc. in order to get ahead in the short term. And do not fear that those willing to participate in such evil things will harm you or destroy you.
Our words and grand explanations rarely swing wide the gates of heavenly revelation as clearly and undeniably as our behavior — and the same is true about swinging them closed.
And nothing reveals our true core values to which we are bound than an opportunity to live them out — to demonstrate their value. How valuable is the Lord to us today?
A video from my friend Steven Boyd really encouraged me on this topic recently: https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10157412386680980&id=693180979&d=null&vh=i
Lord, you are holy and your name is above all names. Help us with such deep things of the heart. Align our values and our person to be your bride, the body of Christ bringing your Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. Abide is us so that your will is done in and through us. You will provide for us, strengthen us, and protect us like you have promised, and we’r praise you for your faithfulness. Forgive us for when we haven’t trusted and obeyed, and help us to forgive and live free indeed — breaking any chains of unforgiveness, bitterness, envy, strife or division. You are sovereign, you are mighty, you are glorious, and you will be worshipped forever and ever. Amen.