Friday, June 11, 2010

Motives for Commitment

After Paul and Silas had been released from jail in Philippi, they travelled to Thessalonica. Paul immediately continued to boldly preach God’s Word in the synagogue. This occurred for three weeks and many believed. However, those Jews who did not believe rounded up some hoodlums, incited a riot, and looked for Paul and Silas in the home of Jason. It became necessary for them to depart Thessalonica, leaving behind a congregation of believers who were instructed in the doctrines of the faith and unmoved by the persecution they endured. Three weeks may have been only the duration of their teaching ministry in the synagogue. Paul and his team may have spent a little longer because the Thessalonians had a broad acquaintance with Christian doctrine, and they could not have received this in three weeks. In 1 Thess 2:1-6, Paul explains his manner of preaching to the Thessalonians while he explains his manner of conversation in verses 7-12.

Paul defends his character against the false accusations of the false teachers. He reminds the Thessalonians that his ministry was successful and was not in vain. False teachers were of the belief that they were full-blooded Hebrews, descended from Israel, and of the seed of Abraham. They were still operating under the delusion that God had granted them favor and had not accepted Jesus Christ as their Messiah.

Because of their false teachings, Paul and his team had suffered much and been shamefully treated. Paul suffered many stripes (beatings), imprisonments, tumults (riots) that followed his preaching, sleeplessness, stoning, etc. Yet they were bold in speaking the gospel to the Thessalonians.

Their motives were pure, honest, unselfish, and without a plot. Their ministry was a sacred stewardship approved by God. They could not please both man and God. They chose to please God who knows all motives, tests the hearts and rewards accordingly. They did not seek to please men like the imposters do, by using flattering words that sound good to win the applause of men, but changes the doctrine of Jesus Christ. Paul and his team never used the work of the Lord as a cloak to cover over their real intent to get rich or any other selfish desire such as love of fame. The people were their witness that they did not use flattering words. He appealed to the all-knowing God to witness that he did not serve the Lord for covetousness.

As an apostle of Christ, Paul could have demanded support from the Thessalonians. But the saints were poor and persecuted. Paul and his team were determined not to be a burden on them. So they worked day and night to provide for their own needs.

In his manner of conversation, Paul states they were as gentle as a nursing (mother) with her children. New babes in Christ need milk and a devoted mother until they can be given the meat. Amidst all the trials and tribulations, he let them know how much they were loved. He loved them not only to be willing to impart the knowledge of the gospel of Jesus Christ, but he loved them enough to be willing to lose his soul to save theirs. Like Christ, he did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life. That he lived a holy lifestyle, blameless before God and men, preaches his best sermon.

Paul and his team encouraged, comforted, and instructed each of the Thessalonians just as a father would counsel his children in wisdom and love that you walk worthy of God. In ourselves, we are not worthy of God or of a place in heaven. We have worthiness when we are in Jesus Christ. It is our gospel duty to remain worthy of God. Then we will have the gospel privilege of being called unto his kingdom and glory.

Written by Deborah C. Davis

1 comment:

Hope said...

This posting reminds me of a quote from Mahatma Gandhi — "The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others."

Paul's motives were pure, honest, unselfish and without a plot. It wasn't about him but he was serving his Lord.