“Now may the Lord direct your hearts toward the love of God and the endurance of Christ.” 2 Thessalonians 3:5 (NET)
I love this verse! Especially this translation. “May the Lord direct your heart toward the love of God and the endurance of Christ.” So much packed in there:
“May the Lord direct your heart” — because only the Lord can cause real life change, real growth, real direction and motivation. We look for growth, direction and motivation in so many other places, but only the Lord can really direct our hearts! So may it be He that directs our hearts!
“toward the Love of God” — because that is where all growth and spiritual formation begins: with understanding how completely and fully each one of us is loved by God. The God who formed me, saved me, redeems me daily, provides me life and breath moment by moment, seeks to walk my unique and personal journey with me, and has great plans for me — He loves me, beyond what I can imagine! And same with you! Why wouldn’t we let Him direct our hearts?
“and [toward] the endurance of Christ.” — Ahhh. The harder part. Endurance. The word itself carries a load with it. We don’t associate the word endurance with something easy and fun; we associate it with something long and hard. And the endurance of Christ!? Holy cow. We know what Jesus had to endure — flogging, humiliation, death on the cross, separation from the Father, the weight of the world’s sin, etc. Me with the endurance of Christ? Not hardly. Yet that is what it says.
And endurance doesn’t come overnight. Gaining endurance requires training. In the physical realm as in the spiritual realm, growing in endurance requires training. We push our limits a little bit, then a little bit more … intentionally, gradually, purposefully … until what used to be challenging becomes easy. And we grow in endurance.
The construction of this verse is not accidental. In fact, the progression of these thoughts are critical. If we, as humans, know how to gently and purposefully grow ourselves in physical endurance, how much more does the God who made us know how to grow us in spiritual endurance? If we know how to be kind and careful and understanding to ourselves and our bodies when we train it in physical endurance, how much more does the God who loves us know how to gently, carefully and purposefully grow us in the endurance of Christ in a kind and understanding way? And if we train our bodies out of our own motivation (however constructive it may be), how much more does God’s training spring out of His deep and vast love for us?
So now … may the Lord direct your hearts toward the love of God and the endurance of Christ.