1 Thessalonians 2:5-6 – For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness. Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others, though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ.
The next time you hear negative gossip about a pastor, 1 Thessalonians 2 is a good reminder that leaders are imperfect people used by a perfect God and innocent until proven guilty. Paul explains his love in terms of his head, heart, and hands so that his convictions, emotions, and service were pure in the sight of God.
- Head – “…we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict…we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God…” (2:2,4)
- Heart – “…our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive…we never came with words of flattery…God is witness. Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others, though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us…like a father with his children…” (2:3,5-8,11)
- Hands – “…we never came…with a pretext for greed—God is witness…For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. You are witnesses, and God also, how holy and righteous and blameless was our conduct toward you believers.” (2:5,9-10)
There is a common phrase that is helpful when trying to determine if information you receive is true or false: “Consider the source”. Before you can discern what to believe, you must first determine who to believe.
In this section, Paul shares his testimony as he does elsewhere to other churches (Acts 22:3-8,15-22; 1 Corinthians 15:1-11; Galatians 1:11-24; Philippians 3:1-11). A few thousand years after 1-2 Thessalonians were written, we know a lot about Paul and nothing about the enemies he faced. We know about the people saved by the Holy Spirit under Paul’s preaching of the gospel, and there is no record of converts attributed to his critics.
God has sustained the two letters Paul wrote as books of the Bible and has chosen to forever erase the false book penned by his foes. And, while we are aware of the church Paul planted and served in Thessalonica, there is no record of his enemies doing the same, as Paul was doing ministry, and his agitators were doing anti-ministry.
Today, nothing has changed. If someone is doing nothing for you but attacking the people and things God has used to bless you, consider the source.
What lies and wrong attacks have you seen come upon godly ministry leaders that sound a lot like Paul’s “conflict” in which he “suffered…shamefully” in 1 Thessalonians 2?
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