Here are some thoughts on the next chapter of Paul’s letter to the Thessalonian church. Take a look and join me as we dig in and try to understand how it applies to us…
1 Thessalonians 2: 1-12 (NASB)
“For you yourselves know, brethren, that our coming to you was not in vain, 2 but after we had already suffered and been mistreated in Philippi, as you know, we had the boldness in our God to speak to you the gospel of God amid much opposition. 3 For our exhortation does not come from error or impurity or by way of deceit; 4 but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who examines our hearts. 5 For we never came with flattering speech, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness— 6 nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others, even though as apostles of Christ we might have asserted our authority. 7 But we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children. 8 Having so fond an affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us. 9 For you recall, brethren, our labor and hardship, how working night and day so as not to be a burden to any of you, we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. 10 You are witnesses, and so is God, how devoutly and uprightly and blamelessly we behaved toward you believers; 11 just as you know how we were exhorting and encouraging and imploring each one of you as a father would his own children, 12 so that you would walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.”
Verse 2 – How we were treated in Philippi – boldness, much opposition (See Acts 16: 22-24 for what happened in Philippi)
Verse 3 – 6 – Paul is addressing the criticism (accusation) raised against him by the Jews who sought to discredit him (Remember Acts 17: 1-9). Let’s figure out what words were used by his critics to describe him: “error, impurity, deceit (trickery like a fishing lure), flattering speech, pretext for greed, seeking glory from men”
In contrast to the untruths, Paul talked about the truth of what his real attitudes and approach towards the Thessalonians.
Verse 4 –
- To be entrusted with something is a lot different than grabbing something because it is my right, or because I’m the best or first or whatever our other self justifying reasons may be. To be entrusted with something means that someone else has given you the responsibility to do something because they thought you had what it took to do it (experience),
- Not as pleasing men, but God – Do we have an audience of One, where we seek to please that One first and foremost above all others, or are we man pleasers? Saying and doing things like politicians that are checking which way public opinion is blowing before they make any decisions.
Verse 7 – We proved to be gentle among you – nursing mother and her children,
- Isn’t that the way it goes? A time of nourishment for the baby, bonding for mom and baby.
Verse 8 – Having a fond affection for you – imparting the gospel and our own lives (things that God has implanted in our souls as we have walked with Him)
- Paul felt like the people of this church were like family to him – more specifically like he was their father and they were his children.
Verse 9 – Our labor and hardship, working night and day (at earning a living by tent making – See Acts 18:3) so as not to be a burden to any of you – He paid his own way. He was unselfish and wanted to promote the well being of others rather than advance his own needs.
- Why did Paul highlight this? Was he looking for kudos or pats on the back? I doubt it. He worked hard to earn a living selling the tents that he made so as not to be a financial burden on the church. On a different note, I personally believe that it is important for pastors to have a tent making skill that they can earn a living from, both to provide for their family’s needs, to have some outreach in a secular job and to have a back up so that if the church was not able to support them, that they would still have a way of putting bread on the table.
Verse 10 – How devoutly, uprightly and blamelessly we behaved –
- Why does Paul feel the need to talk about these things? Not be pat himself on the back, but probably because of his opponents who were accusing him, making false statements about him and what he was doing and saying.
- Just in case there was any confusion or forgetfulness about how he behaved among then, Paul was refreshing their minds.
Verse 11 – We were exhorting, encouraging, imploring you, as a father
- Note the important role that a father plays in the lives of his children. Also note the 3 words he uses. He does not use the words exasperates, insults, criticizes, is overbearing with.
Verse 12 – That you would walk in a manner worthy of God
- We belong to Him, He lives inside of us, through the power of the Holy Spirit. Are we living in such a way that He has free reign to do what He wants in us and through us?
So, as we stop and think about the rich contents of this passage, let’s be a light, work hard and build up those around us!