Prior to discussing Paul’s prayer in 2 Thessalonians 1, Carson talks about the framework that Paul had in mind. Here are a few of his thoughts…
By and large our thanksgiving seems to be tied rather tightly to our material well-being and comfort. The unvarnished truth is that what we most frequently give thanks for betrays what we most highly value. If a large percentage of our thanksgiving is for material prosperity, it is because we value material prosperity proportionately. p.41
If in our prayers we are to develop a mental framework analogous to Paul’s, we must look for signs of grace in the lives of Christians, and give God thanks for them…. The specific elements in his thanksgiving show the framework of values he brings to his intercession – and we urgently need to develop the same framework. p.44
Part of what Paul has in mind, as he prays, is this fundamental orientation to the end of the age, to the vindication of God’s people and to God’s retribution on the (ungodly)… If we do not aim for the new heaven and the new earth, many of our values and decisions in this world will be myopic, unworthy, tarnished, fundamentally wrong-headed. To put the matter bluntly: can biblical spirituality long survive where Christians are not oriented to the world to come? And in this context, can we expect to pray aright unless we are oriented to the world to come? p.50
My Comments: 1) As we observe signs of grace in other people and give God thanks for them it seems like it would be a good idea to let those people know how we see God at work in their lives – as a way of encouraging them.
2) There is an old expression that states, “Don’t be so heavenly minded that you are of no earthly good.” Clever and catchy cliché – the only problem is that these words are unbiblical. Our hope for the future ought to fuel not only our praying but also everything about the way that we live. It is because we have a future that makes our present joyfully bearable.
I’m just sayin’!