OK, I admit, I read the first sentence in ch. 4 as part of today’s reading. I had to, it goes with the thought of chapter 3!!!! (I don’t know why the Bible editors put the 4 marker where they did!)
“Therefore…that is how you should stand firm in the Lord, dear friends!” (4:1)
How do you stand firm? You gotta go back to ch.3 to see how.
“Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you.” (3:15) And, “…eagerly await a savior from there (heaven), the Lord Jesus Christ.” (3:20).
So Paul is saying if you live according to the pattern he gave and eagerly wait for Jesus, you should be able to stand firm in the Lord.
I buy that. I think we Christians, well,…I’ll speak for myself…have lost the “eager anticipation” part. Not surprising since it’s been nearly 2000 years since Jesus left saying he would come back. I have been guilty of thinking “It won’t be in my time.” If you don’t truly believe Christ is coming back “like a thief in the night” ( 1 Thess. 5:2), then you may live more for yourself than for him. Over time, it becomes all for yourself and none for him.
However, I can see how it could change one’s way of doing things if the exact date of return was known, say, 7 months from now. Personally, I would eagerly anticipate the day and nothing would detour me. I would be standing firm, that’s for sure!
Paul is saying to do just that, “eagerly await”.
I can still do that even if I don’t know the exact date of his return. The eagerness also includes thinking about our heavenly citizenship (3:20), and our glorious bodies (3:21). I can get excited about that!! I recently found out the pain I have in my hand and foot is arthritis! 😩
I can now easily understand the ‘eager anticipation’ for a new body! It’s not bad to think like that! In fact, Paul is telling us to do so!
If we truly hold to that hope, it will help us stand firm in our faith!!
As one commentary put it, “This glorious truth (that Christ will return to raise his people from their graves and gather his redeemed to himself), is fitted to cheer us in trial; guard us in temptation; to make us dead to the world; to lead us to keep the eye turned toward heaven.” (Albert Barnes).