May the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the steadfastness of Christ, (3:5).
As Paul is wrapping up what will be his final letter to the Thessalonians, he pens a prayer of blessing, a prayer Paul had previously prayed over them in his first letter, a prayer for God’s continued work in their hearts towards His love and steadfast hope in Christ.
We give thanks to God always for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers; 3 constantly bearing in mind your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father, (1 Thessalonians 1:3).
And today really expands on that which we considered in yesterday’s reading, that He would continue His work in hearts that have been strengthened in His Truth, hearts that have been firmly fixed in their thoughts, desires, feelings, affections, passions and impulses, hearts that are strengthened in unwavering faith.
For it is the strengthened heart that is pliable and supple in His hands. It is the heart established in unwavering faith that surrenders in humility, trusting that He will always Direct Our Hearts for His Glory and for our good.
Many in Thessalonica were in dire need of His Direction. For, as they had come to expect the Lord’s return in their lifetime, some decided it just didn’t matter how they lived out their days. Paul addresses this erroneous attitude, exhorting them with Truth; as they grow in their understanding of God’s love and all that Christ endured on their behalf, they will also grow in their reliance on Him to lead them through life. And as we listen to Paul’s final words of exhortation, we also hear the Heart of God Who Directs Our Hearts as we depend on Him, in truth and faith, to do so.
Consider Him Who Directs Our Hearts
“2720. κατευθύνω kateuthúnō; fut. kateuthunṓ, from katá (2596), an intens., down, and euthúnō (2116), to direct. To guide straight towards or upon something. Generally, it means to guide or direct one’s way or journey to a place…” Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance.
“36.1 ἡγέομαιb; προί̈σταμαιa; κατευθύνω; φέρωd; ἄγωd: to so influence others as to cause them to follow a recommended course of action—‘to guide, to direct, to lead,” Louw- Nida Greek English Lexicon of the New Testament.
As God Directs Our Hearts, He guides us straight into the place of His Spirit’s influence, causing us to follow His lead.
- He Directs Our Hearts into praying for His Word to spread and be glorified.
- Finally, brethren, pray for us that the word of the Lord will spread rapidly and be glorified, just as it did also with you, (3:1).
- He Directs Our Hearts into trusting His deliverance from evil.
- and that we will be rescued from perverse and evil men; for not all have faith, (3:2).
- He Directs Our Hearts into obeying His commands.
- We have confidence in the Lord concerning you, that you are doing and will continue to do what we command, (3:4).
- He Directs Our Hearts into continuing in His love and steadfastness.
- May the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the steadfastness of Christ, (3:5).
- He Directs Our Hearts into living a disciplined manner of life.
- Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from every brother who leads an unruly life and not according to the tradition which you received from us. 7 For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example, because we did not act in an undisciplined manner among you, (3:6-7).
- He Directs Our Hearts into being diligent in our work.
- nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with labor and hardship we kept working night and day so that we would not be a burden to any of you, (3:8).
- He Directs Our Hearts into leading others by our example.
- not because we do not have the right to this, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you, so that you would follow our example, (3:9).
- He Directs Our Hearts into taking personal responsibility.
- For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either, (3:10).
- He Directs Our Hearts into persevering in doing good.
- But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary of doing good, (3:13).
- He Directs Our Hearts into abiding in His Life and Peace.
- Now may the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance. The Lord be with you all! (3:16).
How do we respond to Him Who Directs Our Hearts?
He Directs, He does not coerce or use force. He guides and leads, but it is up to us to follow.
And let’s face it, the flesh always wants to go its own way. But we can be assured, He will admonish us, as part of His family, when we insist on setting our minds on the flesh and refuse to allow Him to Direct Our Hearts.
If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of that person and do not associate with him, so that he will be put to shame. 15 Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother, (3:13-15).
Our hearts can only be Directed when we are strengthened in His Truth to humbly and willingly let go of our own rights.
Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. 25 For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it,” (Matthew 16:24-25).
And there is plenty to consider in today’s chapter to assess whether or not we are letting go of self to follow Him Who Directs Our Hearts; for we know we can never rely on self to lead us to Him, for self will only lead us to follow self; and thus the need to deny self and take up our cross in order to follow Him.
As we grow in our understanding of how desperately we need Him to Direct Our Hearts in order to live this life by faith, and as we trust His Truth that we were in fact crucified with the Son of God Who so loved us, that our flesh went to the cross with Him, and now His Life is lived through us, our hearts will be strengthened in His Truth and we will be liberated to completely count on Him to Direct Our Hearts.
I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. 21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly,” (Galatians 2:20-21).
By faith, we can trust that He Will Direct Our Hearts and establish our steps all the days of our life, to pray for His Word to spread and be glorified, to trust His deliverance from evil, to obey His commands, to continue in His love and steadfastness, to live a disciplined manner of life, to be diligent in our work, to lead others by our example, to take personal responsibility, and to persevere in doing good.
And by faith we know, He Directs Our Hearts always for His Glory and always for our good.
“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven,” (Matthew 5:16).
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose, (Romans 8:28).
And He has given us the Helper, the Spirit of Truth who will always Direct our Hearts as He teaches us, reminds us and guides us into all Truth.
“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; 17 that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you… 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you,” (John 14:26).
“But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. 14 He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. 15 All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you,” (John 16:13-15).
And as we follow His Direction with all that we are, He will be faithful to Direct Our Hearts straight into the place of His Spirit’s influence, causing us to abide in His Life and Peace.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
6 In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight, (Proverbs 3:5-6).
For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, (Romans 8:6).