1 Thessalonians 2.1-8
You yourselves know, brothers and sisters, that our coming to you was not in vain,??2but though we had already suffered and been shamefully mistreated at Philippi, as you know, we had courage in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in spite of great opposition.??3For our appeal does not spring from deceit or impure motives or trickery,4but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the message of the gospel, even so we speak, not to please mortals, but to please God who tests our hearts.??5As you know and as God is our witness, we never came with words of flattery or with a pretext for greed;6nor did we seek praise from mortals, whether from you or from others,
7though we might have made demands as apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, like a nurse tenderly caring for her own children.??8So deeply do we care for you that we are determined to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you have become very dear to us.
The main concern in our text is that the Thessalonians understand that Paul is doing more than passing on information. ??Paul's faith has transformed him and his desire is that the Holy Spirit be placed within the hearts and lives of these people, the same way that it has for others. ??He is drawing a line between himself and others who have come for less than honorable reasons. ??Whereas some have come using tricky words or for impure reasons, Paul's concern is that they truly have Christ. ??Unlike some, Paul is above trickery and flattery; Paul is a true teacher.
Most of us would agree that teaching is a 'calling' and is one of the toughest jobs there is. ??James even warns us in his letter, chapter 3.1,??
Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers and sisters, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. ??
Teachers are held to a high standard. ??We trust them to teach our kids what they need to know in order to do well in life. ??
But we also find a lot of comfort in a teacher that sets a good example because we feel like they are a positive role model for our children. ??To parents, a teacher that a child can look up to is a dream come true. ??We can rest easy when we know that not only are they teaching them things that we ourselves struggle to understand, but they are passing on a little piece of who they are as a person; they have a positive influence that we pray rubs off on them and protects them from making decisions both inside and outside the classroom that could harm them. ??
There's a chance each one of us has a someone in mind that served in a teaching role for us along the way, making an impact on our lives for the better???a mentor, a school teacher, a pastor, an older sibling, or a friend. ??What usually sticks with us is the great care the person took in making sure we understood whatever it was that they were trying to pass on to us. ??It is sincerity that wins the heart.
Paul wanted to emphasize the sincerity of his ministry to the Thessalonians. ??One of the main reasons for this is Paul's understanding of what is at stake here. ??To pass on the gift of eternal life to those living without hope is the most rewarding task of all. ??But in order to do such a thing, you have to do more than tell someone about Jesus. ??Words of hope sink in when people can see it with their heart. ??And in order to speak to the heart each of us has to give a little bit of ourselves. ??God's peace that He desires to give us is something that is said to surpass understanding. ??If this is the case, it is going to take more than telling someone that Jesus loves them and died for them in order for them to surrender their heart and life to God. ??Teaching people to live for God instead of living for themselves means that WE must live for God and not for OUR selves.
This is no easy task. ??Educating others is hard and it's one of the main reasons why finding good educators is so difficult. ??Students know the difference between teachers who teach and teachers who love teaching. ??There is a certain sincerity that must be there in order for others to buy-into what you are telling them. ??They need to know that you believe what you are saying, that you are convinced, because trickery only leads to an insincere showing. ??And so, a good teacher is someone who pours themselves out, who becomes living proof of what they are trying to convey.
Now, don't think that I'm saying this is easy. ??Teaching is a frustrating and burdensome task much of the time. ??Educators want nothing more than for their students to really take in what they are teaching. ??But to me, the purest moment in teaching others is that moment of frustration, when the only thing you believe can help your students is an act that is nothing short of surgically removing what you know in your heart and implanting it into theirs. ??It's at that place when you know that the information is bigger than passing something along. ??
THAT is what Paul wanted for these Thessalonians???a spiritual transplant; for them to have a little piece of himself, of that amazing Holy Spirit that God had placed within him. ??We see it in v.8,??
So deeply do we care for you that we are determined to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you have become very dear to us. ??
For Paul, sharing the gospel meant being living proof, avoiding all forms of trickery and confusing words, and living out a life that pointed straight to the gates of heaven. ??
On the beach, when Jesus called the disciples, His words were "Follow me." ??This Christian life that we talk about Sunday after Sunday, and time and time again, is a life that is supposed to be emulated, imitated, and taught in a way so that others will know by watching our lives. ??The only warning is to be careful of our motives. ??Paul gives that warning in vs. 3 & 4,??
3For our appeal does not spring from deceit or impure motives or trickery, 4but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the message of the gospel, even so we speak, not to please mortals, but to please God who tests our hearts.
Like before, others will know whether or not we actually believe our churchy-talk. ??Therefore, we must be able in both our words and deeds to tell them why we 'say what we say' and 'do what we do'. ??St. Peter says in chapter 3 of his letter,
15 but in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you; 16 yet do it with gentleness and reverence. ??
And so, I want you to leave with a few questions…
Are you living proof of the Holy Spirit? ??
Are you teaching others with your life or are you tricking everyone around you?
Are you engaged in Bible study with the other members of this church, growing in fellowship and in understanding of each others lives?
Are you contributing to this community of believers, letting the light of this church shine as a witness to our community through your involvement?
Consider this a formal invitation to join in the ministries of this church; an invita
tion to start new ministries. We have something for you to be involved in several times a week. ??More than anything we need more people to come and love on these kids on Wednesday nights. ??We need your life???a living, breathing, moving example of what it's like to live out your faith. ??Come and be taught; come and teach. ??And may the Holy Spirit fill each of our hearts with life and faith.
Rev. Whit R. Martin??
Pastor, New Liberty United Methodist Church
Sent from Whit's iPhone