Introduction: “Tough love” is a phrase that has been around for a
very long time. Every parent should understand what it means –
sometimes you have to be mature and discipline your child. You do it
because you love your child, not because you love to discipline. But,
when it comes to two adults, the discipline side seems more difficult
to understand. What right do I have to discipline you? What right do
you have to discipline me? Doesn’t love require me to always help
you, no matter what? These are difficult questions, and Paul deals
with them in his closing words to the Thessalonians. Let’s dive into
our study of the Bible and learn more!

  1. Called

    1. Read 2 Thessalonians 2:13. Has God chosen you to be saved?

      1. Are there some who God did not choose to be saved?

        1. If God chooses everyone, then why would Paul
          write that God chose the Thessalonians?

    2. Read Matthew 22:1-10. What does this story about the
      Kingdom of God teach us about those who are called? (God
      searches out everyone to come to His wedding feast. In the
      parable, when the King told his servants to invite “anyone
      you find,” this represents the gospel now going to the
      Gentiles. That is how the Thessalonians were “chosen.”)

    3. Look again at 2 Thessalonians 2:13. We speak of being
      justified by grace alone. What role do we play in
      sanctification – the idea of progressively living a more
      holy life? (Paul says the Holy Spirit sanctifies us.)

    4. Read 2 Thessalonians 2:14-15. Have we no role in this? (We
      have a role. Paul writes about us believing the truth and
      holding firmly to the teachings.)

      1. Why is believing the truth so important? Just last
        night I heard a famous American television host talk
        about the “many paths to heaven.” (My main struggle
        with sin is in those areas in which I continually
        debate God’s will. I don’t want to admit something is
        sin, because then I would have to turn away from it.
        We have to have a guiding star of belief in the
        truth. We have to first lock down what is right
        before we can hold firm to it.)

    5. Read 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17. How many of us need
      encouragement? (We all do.)

      1. What is the source of our encouragement? (God died
        for us. He died for us so that we can live with Him
        in the future.)

      2. What is the result of this encouragement? (We are
        given strength to live better lives.)

  2. The Evil One

    1. Read 2 Thessalonians 3:1-2. What threatens our lives? What
      threatens our witnessing? (Wicked and evil men who do not
      accept the gospel.)

      1. For what should we pray? (That the gospel will spread
        and be accepted.)

      2. How is that connected with the problem with evil
        people? (The people who are trouble in our life are
        likely those who are unconverted. Converting them
        solves the problem.)

    2. Read 2 Thessalonians 3:3. What does God do to protect us
      from evil? (Two things. He strengthens us and He protects
      us from Satan.)

      1. If God totally protected us, why would we need to be

    3. Read 2 Thessalonians 3:4-5. If our lives in Christ have
      the proper direction, what direction is that? (God’s love
      and Jesus’ perseverance.)

      1. Are those two connected? If so, how?

  3. The Lazy

    1. Read 2 Thessalonians 3:6. How should we treat the lazy and
      the disobedient? (We should keep away from them.)

      1. I’m going to assume that Paul has not forgotten the
        last thing he just wrote. He just wrote that we
        should increase in love and perseverance. How is that
        consistent with staying away from the lazy and the
        disobedient? (This is a “tough love” message.)

      2. If we are too stay away from them, what does that
        mean about helping them?

    2. Let’s skip ahead and read 2 Thessalonians 3:14-15. What is
      the point of staying away from lazy and disobedient church
      members? (The idea is that this is a warning. The lazy and
      disobedient are not our enemy. Instead, they are people
      who need to be warned and disciplined by our absence.)

    3. Read 2 Thessalonians 3:7-8. What did Paul model for the
      church? (Diligence. Not being a burden. Paying for their

    4. Read 2 Thessalonians 3:9. Why did Paul not take food from
      the Thessalonians? He was working for them.(He was
      entitled to be supported by them for his gospel work, but
      he modeled diligence.)

      1. Should this also be a model for government, to
        encourage diligence?

      2. If the answer is yes, then should government impose
        higher taxes on those who refuse to work?
        (Governments generally do just the opposite, they
        place the highest level of taxation on those who are
        the most successful in their work.)

    5. Read 2 Thessalonians 3:10. What should we do with people
      who approach us and beg for money for food? How should
      you, how should your church, respond to the lazy poor?
      (The Bible is clear that we should encourage, indeed
      require, work from those who are helped.)

      1. How can you tell if a poor person is diligent or not?
        (Here is the root of the problem. You would have to
        get to know the person to be sure. It is easy (and
        probably wrong) just to give someone money without
        knowing their situation. Aren’t we required to get to
        know someone before we can make a correct judgment?)

      2. The evening after I wrote the prior series of
        questions, a young man approached me in a restaurant
        and asked if I was a priest. (I often wear only
        black, so his question was not ridiculous.) Joking, I
        responded, “Why, do you have something to confess?” I
        told him I was not a priest. We spoke a little bit,
        and I could tell that he was socially awkward. Later,
        I walked out of the restaurant just behind him. He
        asked me for a very small amount of money for food.
        What should I have done? (I’m embarrassed to say that
        I was running late for a meeting, and so I gave him
        some money. Later, I thought “how stupid can I be?”
        There were much better ways to handle this, instead
        of just giving him money. We had just walked out of a

    6. Read 2 Thessalonians 3:11-12. What is the problem with
      encouraging laziness? (Work is one of the blessings in
      life. It keeps you out of trouble. It allows you to help
      others. God desires us to be diligent in our work, not
      sitting around gossiping about the lives of others.)

    7. Read 2 Thessalonians 3:13. Can we get burned out doing
      what is right? (Doing good for others is a joy. However,
      we need to work intelligently with those in need.)

    8. Read 2 Thessalonians 3:16-18. Why would an able bodied
      person want to stop working? (They think that is the most
      enjoyable kind of life. A life of leisure.)

      1. What does Paul indicate should be the chief goal of
        our life? (A God-given peace.)

    9. Friend, have you considered making a peaceful life your
      goal? Paul teaches us that walking towards holiness, and
      working to bless others, is the path to peace. Will you
      commit to begin walking in that direction today?

  4. Next week: We begin a new study entitled “Growing in Christ.”