Thursday, February 06, 2014

Church devotion - Payback - 2 Thessalonians 1:6

Today’s Bible readings are 1 Samuel 13:1-7 and 2 Thessalonians 1:1-7

2 Thessalonians 1:6   God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you

Sometimes when I read Paul’s letters, I wonder what kind of situation he was writing about and actually dealing with. It seems to me that all of the Young Churches that he was sending letters to, had internal problems which were negatively affecting the growth of the congregations. Time and time again, Paul reminded folks that God wasn't blind to the antics of these troublemakers; if they troubled the church, then payback would occur, because God would trouble them.

I get concerned when I hear of pastors and congregations that are experiencing conflict. I wonder if the people causing the damage really understand what kind of fearful judgment they are placing themselves under. Conflict in the world usually gets settled by arbitration; conflict in the church will be settled by God. The Church is Christ’s Bride, so anything that stains or contaminates or damages the Church, affects that which Jesus deeply loves.

Now I’m not free of this troublemaking myself. Every pastor that I know causes ripples in every congregation that he or she serves. Even the apostle Paul was known to stir up more than a few conflicts of his own. But the message from this letter should be clear to all of us – God looks after His own and payback really does occur, especially if pride gets in the way of peacemaking, or if self-righteousness blocks self-repentance.

Today’s message is as much meant for me, as it may be meant for anyone else.

Questions for personal reflection

Have I contributed to or caused conflict in the church? How can I seek forgiveness and find a way to make peace?

Prayer:            Lord Jesus, as Christians we belong to Your Bride, the Church. Sometimes we fail to honor and cherish Your Love because we allow our pride to override our faith. Help us to see ourselves as both You and others see us, so that we may be challenged by the truth and changed for the betterment of Your Bride. In Your Holy Name, we pray. Amen.

John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to ask a question or make a comment about today’s message, please send him an email to

Today’s image is one of John’s latest drawings called “Celtic Lights.” It depicts the northern lights seen from the shoreline of Scotland. If you would like to view a larger version, please click on the following link:

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