We are not promised tomorrow. Our days are numbered. The clock is ticking. My child turns four this year. Your child just graduated. Where did the time go? I buried a few dozen church members this past year. You buried a few family members. Where did the time go? Life is short. Eternity is long. And judgment is coming.

So why don’t we live like it? Few of us live in light of eternity. So many of us are numbed to the urgency of eternity by the tyranny of the urgent. We’re prone to be short-sighted, focused on the temporal, and blind to the eternal.

We need the corrective lens of God’s Word to bring eternity into sharp relief. And 2 Thessalonians 1 does just that. In short, it reminds you and me of a simple truth: We will one day stand before Christ in judgment. Let the Apostle Paul’s words in this chapter sober your distracted heart, strengthen your drained spirit, and encourage your despondent soul. One of two destinies awaits you. 

Infinite Joy Awaits Those Who Receive Him 

If you know Christ, the infinite joy of relief from suffering and sorrows awaits you. In life, it can seem like enemies of God have the upper hand. The right are wronged, and the wrong get rewarded. Take heart. A day is coming when you will have joyful relief from your enemies: “God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you.” God will vindicate you who trust Him. He will win. He will wipe away every tear from your eye. Sorrow will be no more: “[God will] grant relief to you who are afflicted.” 

Furthermore, the infinite joy of reward awaits you. God will glorify Jesus one day in you: “when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed.” We will stand as trophies of His grace one day. We will bear His image.

Like electricity flowing through the filament of a lightbulb, so too we will image forth the glory of God. Future glory awaits us. But until that day comes, we are promised present grace to live today: “To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power.”

Infinite Judgment Awaits Those Who Reject Him 

But if you do not know him, beware: Infinite judgment awaits. This is naturally offensive, for all of us by nature don’t see ourselves as deserving of judgment. For many years, I saw judgment for my sin as unjust. A transformative moment of my life was the day when I finally awakened to the truth that a just and fair God of holiness should rightly judge me and all sinners. It is sheer grace that I stand saved. 

But if you reject him, the Apostle Paul is clear that just, dreadful, and final judgment awaits you if you reject him. He will “repay” us with judgment, meaning we have earned it. This judgment is dreadful judgment: “Inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might.” 

Do you see eternity in sharp relief? You’ve now peered through the corrective lens of God’s Word. You will one day stand before Christ in judgment. Infinite joy will await you if you trust Him. Infinite judgment will await you if you reject Him. Trust Him this day. 

Dr. Kyler Smith
Senior Associate Pastor
Hickory Grove Baptist Church,
Charlotte, NC