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In 1 Thessalonians Chapter 2, Paul reminds them that just before he came to Thessalonica, he had suffered persecution and been mistreated in Philippi. The Thessalonians remembered how Paul had preached the gospel to them with great boldness in the face of much opposition. Thus, Paul was an example to the Thessalonian Christians, of one who was not afraid of persecution for the sake of the gospel.
Paul goes on to say something about his ministry that we should all give heed to: “We spoke not as pleasing men, but God who examines our hearts” (1 Thess. 2:4). That should be the testimony of all who preach and teach that they never preach to please their hearers but only God. God constantly examines the hearts of all who preach to see whether they are seeking to please Him alone.
Paul emphasised this when writing to the Galatian Christians too. Paul often emphasised the fact that he never sought to please men. Seeking the honour of men is a sin that is not recognised sufficiently in Christendom. Other sins are easily recognised, but not this one. Seeking man’s honour is a very serious sin. Such a person can never be a servant of Christ (Galatians 1:10).
Paul says in 1 Thess. 2:5, that he never flattered anyone in his preaching. He never said anything just to please some rich people in the congregation – not even in private conversation. Many preachers flatter the rich and the influential to get some benefit from them. But a true servant of God will never flatter anyone. Paul goes on to say that he never preached in order to make money (1 Thess. 2:5). Many preachers know what to say that will make people give them a good offering. But if they preach the truth that God wants them to preach, they will be rejected by most churches. Most preachers want to be invited back to large, rich churches and so they speak what pleases the people.
In Paul’s preaching he did not seek glory from people (1 Thess. 2:6). Neither did he assert his authority over people, even though as an apostle he could have. There are a number of verses here that teach us how we are to serve the Lord. All who serve the Lord must meditate on this section of Scripture: There was no flattery, no desire for money, no seeking glory from people and no assertion of authority.
In addition to these negatives, Paul talks about some positive things as well, as to how he ministered and served among them. First of all, he served as a gentle nursing mother cares for her baby (1 Thess. 2:7). Secondly he says, “We had a fond affection for you” (1 Thess. 2:8). No man is fit to speak God’s word to people unless he has a great love for the people to whom he is speaking. If you don’t have a real love in your heart for people, forget about preaching to them. Go and do something else. Thirdly, he says, ” We wanted to give you not only the gospel of God, but we wanted to give you our lives “(1 Thess. 2:8). What a challenging example for us! They didn’t want to just give them a message; they wanted to pour out their lives to serve them. Fourthly, he says how he worked hard night and day so that they wouldn’t become a financial burden on them (1 Thess. 2:9). A servant of God must be a hard-working person. Many full-time Christian workers don’t really do much hard work. They go in the evenings here and there for some meetings, but waste much of the rest of the day. They are not really full-time workers. They are only evening workers. The real full-time workers are those who do a secular job during the day, throughout the week, and then go out and do the Lord’s work in the evenings and on Sundays. Paul made tents during the day and when he had some spare time, late into the night. Thus he earned his living and did not become a burden to anyone.
Paul goes on to say how devoutly, uprightly, blamelessly he behaved towards the believers in Thessalonica (1 Thess. 2:10). Wherever Paul went, he could say, “It’s not just my message, but the way I live that demonstrates the gospel.” What a need there is for Christian workers who can say that!
In 1 Thess. 2:11, Paul says that he also rebuked, encouraged and implored those believers as a father. A true servant of God is both a mother and a father. As a mother, he deals gently with the believers, and as a father he gives them advice and disciplines them where necessary. Both these qualities must be found in every servant of God and in every elder of a church. I would encourage anyone who wants to serve the Lord to read and meditate much on 1 Thess. 2:4-11, if he wants to be effective.
Copy Right – Christian Fellowship Church, Bangalore, India.
This writing can publish freely without changes (www.cfcindia.com)