The Apostle Paul prays in Second Thessalonians 3:5 (NASB) “May the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the steadfastness of Christ.” This is a prayer for God to act on our behalf.
Why would God need to direct our hearts?
Why would God need to direct our hearts? For one thing, we are prone to wander away from him. We lose our way and get ourselves into trouble. For another thing, we often do not know what to do in certain situations and we need God to guide us. The Bible says not to lean on our own understanding, but to trust and acknowledge God and he will direct our paths (Proverbs 3:5-6). It is also necessary in times of need to be patient and endure until God’s help comes. There are many reasons for needing God’s love and steadfastness.
What are ways God directs us? He can direct us by his Spirit speaking into our mind, by circumstances taking us in a certain direction, by allowing problems that cause us to change our direction, or by his words given to us through others, or through the scriptures.
Does directing our hearts mean that God is forcing us against our will?
Does directing our hearts mean that God is forcing us against our will? It may seem that way sometimes, but he is not forcing us against our will when we want to follow his directions. Most followers have a heart that wants his will to be done in their lives. In some cases, God does things to convince us, in our stubbornness, to correct our beliefs about him, and our contrary ways, as for example, in the conversion of the apostle Paul (Acts 9). Sometimes God has a specific purpose for an individual or a nation and softens or hardens hearts. Seemingly, God does this in line with the way our hearts are already set to go. For example, God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, but he had already hardened his own heart (Exodus 8:32; 9:12). Another time, God directed Cyrus, a pagan king, to let captive Israel return to their country and rebuild their nation (Ezra 1:1-3). I have to wonder if his heart already leaned in that direction but God was at work in him to make sure his will through Cyrus was accomplished (Philippians 2:13).
In our text at hand, Paul prays that God would direct our hearts in a specific direction. He prays that the Lord will direct our hearts “into the love of God and into the steadfastness of Christ.”
What does this mean? Does it mean we are to love God more, and exercise patient endurance during difficult times, to wait for God’s help as Jesus did? It is always good to love God more and be more like Jesus. It is also good to know that God will help us realize how much he loves us and how faithful Jesus is to be steadfast toward us. After all, the Bible does say that we love God because he first loved us (1 John 4:19). God takes the initiative to love us, and our love for him, as well as steadfastness, increases as a by-product of his love for us.
Why does it matter that we realize more of God’s love? To be loved by God does many things. It tells us we are of worth, and we are important to him. It increases our sense of safety and security to know that he is caring and looking out for us. His loving comfort makes us want to be with him. His acceptance and forgiveness humbles us and makes us want to do the same for others. Knowing that his love will not allow anything to happen that is not for our good makes us feel everything will be ok, and alleviates our fears. To experience supreme love is our greatest need; it prevents loneliness, it promotes our well-being, it breathes new and eternal life into us.
What does it mean for God to direct our hearts into the steadfastness of Christ?
What does it mean for God to direct our hearts into the steadfastness of Christ? Again, does this mean to be more steadfast, or does it mean to realize his steadfastness toward us? Why not both? We are to be like Jesus, exercising patience and endurance in difficult situations; but it helps when we experience his steadfastness toward us. He promises never to leave or forsake us. He is always there to forgive, strengthen, and encourage us. His steadfastness gives hope and courage to endure tough times, knowing his help is on the way and our future with him is certain. We will resolve to give the same strength and hope to others when they are tempted to give up, or stop believing in the midst of life’s painful trials.
To have our hearts directed into the love of God and into the steadfastness of Christ are great things to pray, for self and others. It reminds us of who we are and what we have in those times when we tend to forget. It is more than a reminder; it infuses into us God’s grace, helping us survive the struggles of daily life.