We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth (2 Thessalonians 2:13, esv).
I love you.
That’s something we typically say to someone close to us when we’re trying to express affection, or to encourage them.
“I love you.”
“We love you.”
Reminding someone they are “beloved by the Lord” is the best encouragement you can give, as well as the best encouragement you can receive.
“I hope you know how much we love you.”
But maybe you’ve tried putting your feet down on the anchor of another human being’s love, and found it didn’t hold firm the way you thought it would. Human love always contains the potential to be disappointing or even downright painful. That’s why I’m so thankful for what Paul said when he was writing to the Thessalonians. His goal wasn’t primarily to encourage them by his own love, but to affirm them as “brothers beloved by the Lord.” What an awesome thing to say to someone—to your spouse, your children, your friends—that “you are loved by God.” Put your feet down on that rock! Throw your anchor down there—because the love of God is absolutely, a hundred percent, guaranteed to hold.
Many years ago, a scow carrying a load of sand and gravel, just up river from Niagara Falls, somehow came unhitched from its tugboat. Only two men were on board, and they immediately, desperately, started dumping everything they could find to decrease the weight. Racing closer and closer to going over the edge, to certain death, they didn’t stop struggling until their vessel finally crashed into some rocks. And in grounding on that spot, they must have really locked onto something . . . because even though the two crew members were eventually rescued, the scow itself is still stuck there in the rapids today, over a hundred years later! It’s never budged again, no matter how much water keeps rushing past it.
That’s what the anchor of God’s love is like. And that’s why reminding someone they are “beloved by the Lord” is the best encouragement you can give, as well as the best encouragement you can receive.
The central theme of the Bible, without question, is God’s love. “For God so loved the world” (John 3:16). “But God shows his love for us” (Romans 5:8). “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son” (1 John 4:10). The reality of God’s love for us is the foundational truth for all of life. “We have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us” (1 John 4:16).
I don’t know what may be most on your mind today. I don’t know what you've been thinking about all week. But here’s what I hope and pray for you: “May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God” (2 Thessalonians 3:5). Push from your mind any obstacle to believing in your heart the love He has for you. His love is not dependent on your performance. His love is not limited by what other people say or have said to you. His love is not even limited by the personal messages you say to yourself.
In fact, let me say the message to you, fresh from the Word of God: you are “beloved by the Lord.” That’s an anchor that will always hold.
Father, Your Word says Your promises are like “a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul” (Hebrews 6:19). I’m so thankful for this steady encouragement. May the assurance of Your love become an anchoring presence in my life today, and every day. Not only that, but as You grow my love for others, keep me constantly reminding them that Your love for them is the surest love of all. Help me share it, and help me receive it, in Jesus’ name, amen.