How do we know the truth?
My kids tell me about things they see on the Internet - it has to be true if it's on the Internet, right? Did you hear what <name of your favorite talking head> said - if they said it, it has to be true, right? Did you read that article in the Washington Post - reporters never mislead, right? Okay, knowing the truth isn't a straight-forward task. It definitely wasn't for the Thessalonians (aka the T's).
The T's had been hood-winked. They had bought into some false teaching about the return of Christ. Some claimed to have special revelation to know the exact time of Christ's return. Others, because of their belief in His imminent return, neglected their daily responsibilities - expecting others to care for them.
How did the T's get sidetracked from the truth or as Paul described them, "shaken in mind or alarmed"? Several possibilities can be cleaned from the reading: they were emotionally moved by a message, situation, or thought; they listened to some bad teaching and accepted it as truth; or they read or heard what they thought was a letter from someone they trusted (Paul) that gave them bad direction.
Thankfully, Paul gave the T's some very practical advice, "stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught by us". The word translated "tradition" refers to the divine apostolic teaching previously given to the T's. Paul is gently telling them to remember what he's told them. Don't be swayed: not by eloquent teachers, not by emotional ploys, and not by rumors or second hand information. Can you relate to the T's? I know I can!
The Thursday devotion for this week had some keen insight into Truth. The devotion resonates with the message Paul is giving - that we can know the truth. The closer we draw to the incarnate Truth, Jesus, and the Truth as revealed in His word, the less likely we will be to become like the T's: "shaken in mind or alarmed".