First Thessalonians 006 – Blameless in Ministry1 Thessalonians 2:1-9 • Dr. Andy Woods • November 20, 2022 • First Thessalonians
First Thessalonians 006
Blameless in Ministry
1 Thessalonians 2:1-9
November 20, 2022
Dr. Andy Woods
Thanks for bringing your global warming with you this morning. Let’s open a word prayer. Father, we are grateful for the opportunity that we have to gather in Your name. To learn from Your scriptures, which in a changing world, Your word never changes. Your character never changes. You are the same yesterday, today, and forever. We’re grateful for the promise that although heaven and earth will pass away, Your word will never pass away. The grass withers and the flower fades. But the word of our Lord abides forever. And so we recognize that, as we come today, we’re making an investment into eternity. And we so desperately need that. We desperately need You to speak into our lives. We need Your word of exhortation to us, comfort to us, encouragement to us, if need be. Correction. And a human teacher cannot accomplish that. That is something that the illuminating Ministry of the Spirit of God, only He can do. So we invite His activity today in our personal lives as we look into Your word. And so, sort of, in way of preparation to receive from You today we’re going to just take a few moments of silence to do personal business with You if necessary. We understand that our position is secure, but sometimes we do things in our natural selves that can damage our fellowship. And when our fellowship with You is damaged, we really can’t receive in fullness what You would have for us. So, we’re going to just take a few moments personally.
Claim First John 1:9 as we prepare ourselves to study Your word today. We’re thankful, Lord, for the promise of First John 1:9 that if we confess our sins, You’re faithful, and just to cleanse us. To forgive us and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. And so we just ask that in all the activities taking place at Sugar Land Bible Church today, in all the different rooms from the sanctuary right on down to the nursery, we just asked that You would have Your way. And we lift all of these things up in Jesus’ name. God’s people said Amen. All right. Well, if you could take your- open your Bibles to first Thessalonians chapter 2. First Thessalonians Chapter 2. And a few weeks back, we embarked on a verse-by-verse teaching through the Book of First Thessalonians. We kind of laid out the background of the book. Who, what, where, when, how sort of questions that you have to understand to really appreciate a book of the Bible. And basically, the book has two parts to it. Chapters 1 through 3, Paul is looking backward to personal experience. And essentially what’s going on there in the first three chapters is Paul, he is having to rehabilitate his reputation as an apostle and as a servant of God because he was pushed out of Thessalonica down into Corinth by his theological opponents. Which would be unbelieving Jews, unbelieving Hebrews. And then in Paul’s absence, the unbelieving Hebrews turned on Paul’s new converts in Thessalonica.
And they started to say a lot of bad things about Paul. So if you find yourself in a situation where you’re trying to do something for the Lord and people misrepresent you behind your back, don’t feel too sorry for yourself. Unfortunately, that goes with the territory. This happened to the great apostle Paul. But as long as his converts in Thessalonica believe these lies about his character, I mean, how in the world could he ever correct them? Which is what he wants to do in chapters 4 and 5. How could he answer their theological questions, which he wants to do in chapters 4 and 5? How could he ever respond to issues that he knows are impeding their growth in Christ, which he wants to do in chapters 4 and 5. Unless he first rehabilitates himself in terms of his character and his reputation, which he does in chapters 1 through 3. So chapters 1 through 2 is largely looking back to his personal experience with the Thessalonians before he was driven out of Thessalonica. And he’s saying, Don’t you remember when I was with you? My character was upright. My character was blameless. So all these terrible things that you’re hearing about me, and people said terrible things about Paul because they didn’t want Paul’s audience to listen to Paul anymore. So they began to dredge up a lot of manufactured slander behind his back.
And he’s saying if you just would go back and remember what I was like when I was with you, you would see that all of these things spoken about me are erroneous. So I think what’s happening in Chapter 1 is Paul has responded to the accusation that the Thessalonians’ conversion really wasn’t true. Paul’s message, his detractors said, was nothing different than a motivational talk. And so they’re trying to convince the audience that they got talked into something, this Christianity thing. And Paul says, no, this, this, this is a real conversion that happened to you. And in Chapter 1, he explains all of the things that were happening in the lives of the Thessalonians that are inexplicable. Absent the Holy Spirit. You look right there in the middle. Verse 6 They had joy in the midst of tribulation. Now, how could that ever happen unless the Holy Spirit is producing it? And he talks about all the wonderful things that the Holy Spirit had replicated through their lives. No, you’re conversion was not a motivational speech. This was a real encounter with God that you have had. The Holy Spirit is really inside of you. I mean, you turned from idols. He kind of ends in verse 10 with a reference to the return of Christ. This is how Paul ends every chapter in Thessalonians, with an emphasis on the return of Chris. How they had an eschatological hope that Jesus was coming back to rescue them from the wrath of God that was coming to the earth. So these things are not the result of a human seminar, so to speak. These things are the result of the Holy Spirit. So in chapter 2, he moves away from that subject and he responds to the accusation of impure motives. And what he does in chapter 2 verses 1 and 2 is he says, My message is pure, my motives are pure and my method is pure. And then he, as you move down to verses 3 through 12, he elaborates on those three words, all beginning with the letter M. 3M guess we could call this. He responds, or he elaborates on the purity of his message verses 3 and 4. The purity of his motives verses 5 through 8. And the purity of his method verses 9 through 12. So notice, if you will, Second Thessalonians chapter 2 and notice, if you will, verses 1 and 2, starting with verse 1. Paul says, “For you yourselves know, brethren, that our coming to you was not in vain.” You’ll notice the reference to Brethren there. Obviously when he says, Brethren, he’s using the same word the way Jesus used it in Matthew 12:46-50. His audience is primarily Gentile with some Jews in it. That’s what formed the basis of the Thessalonians church. And Paul the Apostle indicates here that although I’m a Jew and my audience is Gentile, we are still brethren.
Meaning they were saved. You remember what Jesus did in Matthew 12:46-50? It says there “While He was still speaking to the crowds, behold, His mother and His brother were standing outside, seeking to speak to Him. Someone said to Him, ‘Behold, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside seeking to speak to You.’ But Jesus answered the one who was telling Him and said, ‘Who is my mother and who are My brothers?’ And stretching out his hand toward His disciples, He said, ‘Behold My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of my father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother.” Paul the Apostle in the book of Galatians 3:28, says, In the church age. Because neither Jew nor Greek slave, nor free, male nor female. Obviously, you don’t lose your ethnic identity and you don’t lose your gender when you get saved. I mean, those are real distinctions. But God has done this amazing work where he’s put us all into this new man called the Body of Christ. And we are all co-heirs in this new man. And so when Paul here refers to the Thessalonian Christians as his brethren, he’s obviously speaking to saved, regenerated people. And he says there in verse 1, “For you yourselves know, brethren, that are coming to you is not in vain.” So obviously you didn’t get talked into a self-help course because if someone can talk you into something that has the gift of gab, somebody else with the gift of gab can talk you out of it.
So obviously, what’s happened to you is not just something that happened in the energy of the flesh. I mean, there was a real conversion that you had when I was the evangelist. Having been kicked out of the synagogue by the unbelieving Jews I went to you and I bore a great- bore a great fruit amongst the Gentiles. And you are authentically, legitimately saved. I mean, your salvation is secure. And so obviously what I preached unto you was not in vain. So my message was pure. And then he talks briefly about his motives. Second part of verse 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.” So my motives were pure, and I didn’t end up in Thessalonica seeking popularity. I mean, it’s the Lord that added to my ministry. I wasn’t seeking to be popular. I certainly wasn’t seeking your money. More on that a little bit later in the chapter. But the whole reason I showed up in Philippi- excuse me, Thessalonica was because I was mistreated in Philippi. So I don’t know how good your eyes are. And you could see that the different cities, you probably can’t even see them because I can’t see them where I’m at. But there’s a big red, big red circle and you’ll see there Philippi on one end.
Which would be the more Eastern area and then Thessalonica, more Western. And so, I mean, this is his second missionary journey. So Paul always went to where the people are. That’s a pretty good missionary strategy, right? Go to where the people are because your goal is to reach the people. Gosh, Andy, why do you spend so much time doing Internet teaching? Because that’s where the people are. I mean, you have people on the Internet that will listen to you that will never darken the door of a church. So Paul went to where the people are. He went to Philippi and from there he went to Thessalonica. And it wasn’t the kind of thing where it was like a cruise itinerary. All right. Two days in Philippi. Check. Let’s move on to Thessalonica. I mean, he was, like, violently pushed out of those areas, and he was forced into Thessalonica, and then he didn’t stay in Thessalonica any more than six months to a year because he was forced out of there. And that’s how he ended up in Corinth. So this is not a cruise- Middle Eastern cruise that he’s taking here. And I like Middle Eastern Cruises. I just got back from one. I love them. But that’s not what Paul was doing. I mean, Paul ended up in Thessalonica because he was literally thrown out of the other cities, including Philippi.
So if all of that is true, Paul says, how in the world could you attack my motives? I mean, my motives are not comfort and luxury. The whole reason I came to you was because of discomfort and a lack of luxury. And then you look at the second half of verse 2 and he says, “As you know, we had the boldness in our God to speak to you, the gospel of God, amid much opposition.” Now he’s getting to his methods. What were his methods? His methods were sacrificial. In fact, he says there at the end of verse 2, I actually suffered in your presence when I was with you in Thessalonica. I mean, you saw me being kicked out of a Jewish synagogue that I was in for three weeks, essentially trying to show the unbelieving Jews that Yeshua, Jesus, was indeed their Messiah from their own Bible, Hebrew Bible. And they turned on me and they pushed me out. Now, when the Jews pushed Paul out, he keeps going to the Jews in the next city he’s in. And the next city and the next city. Why does he keep doing that? Because he says in Romans one, I think it’s verse 16 concerning the gospel. It goes first to the Jews, then to the Gentiles. So Paul’s following an order. The nation of Israel is God’s chosen nation. Even though the Book of Acts records not a real favorable result in most of first-century Israel, that doesn’t change the fact that God has made an unconditional covenant in and through the nation of Israel. And God is going to keep his word one day.
But in the first century, Paul did not have a lot of evangelistic success amongst the Jews. So you watched me suffer while I was in Thessalonica. So obviously my motives are not self-centered and my methods are not self-centered. But they’re God-centered because when I was with you, second part of verse 2. “As you know, we had the boldness in our God to speak to you, the gospel.” I gave you the gospel, which means good news. Which is the piece of information that you need to be saved. And I did it through great boldness. And I didn’t conjure up this boldness from myself. He talks here in verse 2 about boldness in our God. Not just boldness, but boldness iqn our God. When Paul writes to Timothy, a young man who will be pastoring the church at Ephesus, which was a huge assignment for such a young person, who had a lot of other issues related to his health and things like that. Paul gives, I think, the secret for Paul’s success. And Timothy, if you fit into this pattern, this is the secret for your success also in what God has called you to do. He says in Second Timothy2:1, “You therefore, my son, be strong.” And it doesn’t stop there, the verse.
“Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” God does not call us to be strong in our natural selves. He calls us to be strong in the energy that He supplies. And Paul says, That’s what I exemplified before you. I mean, I was bold with the gospel. Second part of verse 2, “in our God.” Because a lot of people will say, you know, boy, there’s a lot of suffering going on amongst Christians. There’s martyrdoms taking place in other countries. We very clearly see the culture even here in the late great United States, turning against Christianity. And sometimes we wonder, you know, do I really have the toughness and do I really have the mettle and do I really have the inner fortitude to stand up against all that stuff? And the truth of the matter is, God doesn’t call you to stand up in the midst of all of that through your own toughness and mental fortitude. He tells Timothy to be strong in the grace of God, which is available in Jesus Christ. Paul did what he did because he was a bold preacher of the gospel. “Of God.” See that? He was completely dependent upon God’s resources. And if God is all-powerful, which He is, He’s omnipresent. Boy, that takes the sweat out of a lot of ministry activity because God didn’t call you to do it through your own strength. Whatever you’re called to do, God says, stand in the strength that I provide.
You know, someone has said that the Christian life is difficult. I disagree with that. The Christian life is not difficult. The Christian life is impossible if lived through one’s own power. But God doesn’t call us to live out the Gospel through our own power. He calls us to live it out through the power that He daily provides. And when you start walking in that you’ll start to do things and say things that you probably would never do in your- in your natural self because it’s really not you doing it. It’s the Holy Spirit doing it through you as His instrument. So Paul says, you know, how could my methods be attacked when you- when you saw me suffer, you saw opposition I was under? Because he mentions here, verse 2, Opposition. And in spite of it, I preach the Gospel of God to you. So therefore, my message, my motives, and my methods were pure. And just to get the point across further now, he goes into more detail concerning each of these three M’s. He talks about his message in verses 3 and 4. Notice verse 3. “For our exhortation does not come from error or impurity or by way of deceit.” So when I preach the gospel to you, I didn’t do it in an erroneous way. I didn’t do it in a deceitful way. How did I do it then? Verse four. “But just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel,” verse 4.
“So we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who examines our hearts.” I didn’t come in a deceitful, erroneous way. Verse 3. But how did I come? I came as one who had been entrusted by God with a message. The truth of the matter is, folks, we’re not in the business of giving our own message. Right? I mean. People sometimes email me and say, What’s your opinion on such and such? And I’m like, You’re really going to ask me that? You really want my opinion? Does the world really need another opinion? I mean, isn’t everybody on cable television giving their own opinion about everything? We have editorial sections in the newspaper. Everybody’s giving their own opinion. We don’t need another opinion. We need God’s opinion. And Paul the Apostle says, When I came to you, I came just as I’ve been approved by God. It wasn’t my message. It was something that God entrusted to me. Now, how do you know if a message comes from God or from man? Well, he keeps moving here in verse 4, and he says, “We have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men.” See if someone is coming with their own message the temptation is to tickle the ears, to get people to like them better, to get a following. Because the bigger your following, the more your personal popularity, the more your personal wealth.
Usually, this is how the philosophers of the first century did it. They would show up in towns and they would give these sort of glib oratories and they would target people’s emotions and things. And what the natural man generally likes to hear. And that’s how the philosophers of the day operated. And Paul says, I didn’t come to you that way at all. I didn’t come with a man-pleasing message. Because I preach the gospel, which always has a stumbling block in it. Paul in the book of Galatians talks about that stumbling block. And he says in Galatians 5:11, “But I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? Then the stumbling block of the cross has been abolished.” How do you- what is the stumbling block of the gospel? I mean, what causes people at the end of the day to say, The gospel is not for me? Well, I think it’s pretty simple. The gospel is free. I mean, it’s completely free. And you know, from the natural world that it’s much easier to give a gift than to receive a gift. Because when you receive something that’s completely and totally free, it’s sort of an attack on one’s pride. It’s like if someone, you know, buys lunch. Hey, I’m going to buy lunch. Ok, well, I’ll get it next time. I’ll get the bill next time.
Oh, well, let me leave the tip. Well, basically what you’re saying is, okay, you gave me a gift, but I really don’t want to accept it as a gift. Because it’s too humiliating to receive a gift. So I’m going to put up my own little work. So I’ve got to do to somehow, in my mind, think I’ve earned the gift. See, once you preach the gospel in a way where humans can do something, then you’ve emptied the gospel of its offense. In this case, Paul was dealing with people who were preaching circumcision. Which basically is- so the grace of God plus submission to the law. And Paul says if I change the message and make it appeal to people and their desire for work’s righteousness. Because if you have works righteousness, you have something to brag about, right in your natural self. If I preach the gospel and accommodate it to work’s righteousness, then I’ve just taken away the offense of the gospel and it’s no longer a God-pleasing gospel. It’s a man-pleasing gospel. And that’s, always, how you can recognize a false gospel. You just look at the spotlight. What is the message on? Is it on Jesus and what he did 2000 years ago? And how His final words on the cross were “It is finished”, coming from the Greek word ‘tetelestai’ which means paid in full. I mean, is the message all about Jesus and what He accomplished and how we can be beneficiaries of what He did by receiving something as a gift? Or is the emphasis or the spotlight on what man has to do? Yeah, but you better repent of all your sins first.
Yeah, but you better walk this aisle or live this holy life or fill out this card or join this church or give this amount of money. This is why these other things always, very sadly, get slipped into evangelistic presentations, because that’s generally what people like to hear. Because it allows them to contribute something. And the moment you allow them to think that they’re contributing to their own justification other than receive what Jesus has done as a gift, is the moment you just took the offense of the gospel and you empty the offense out. You have to understand that God has designed the gospel. And it’s not- this isn’t something I came up with. Believe me, I could have never come up with something like this. This is what God says. God has designed the gospel. So it’s the ultimate attack on human pride. God hates pride. First Peter five, I think it’s around verses 5 and 6. It actually says He opposes the proud. But He gives grace to the humble. And so if you want to be right with God, you have to come in a way where everything you’re receiving is free. It’s completely a free gift. And so Paul says, Look, if I was somehow preaching an impure message, I would have just done what everybody else did.
I would have inserted some kind of human work. I would have put it on the front end. We call that front-loading the gospel. We would have put it on the back end. We call that backloading the gospel. It’s like your typical evangelistic tract that you read today. It says, Oh, you’re saved by grace through faith. But at the end of the tract, it gives you four or five works you’ve got to do. That’s a mixed message. We try hard with our tracks to make sure the spotlight is completely on Jesus, and the only human response required is faith alone which means trust, which is the only way to receive a gift from God. So Paul says here in verse 4, You can’t attack my message because my message was not a man-pleasing message at all. And Paul says also here that I’m accountable to God. He says, “So we speak, not as pleasing men, But God.” Ministry. What is it about? It’s about pleasing an audience of one God. So sometimes I’ll say to my wife, I go, Man, I’m not doing too well in ministry. I mean, this group is upset with me. This person is mad at me. And my wife will say, Well, is God happy with you? Because that’s really what matters at the end of the day, right? I mean, you’re really doing ministry for an audience of one.
You have no ability to control the reaction of people. The only thing you can control is to make sure that your message and your lifestyle lines up with what God says. Leave the other stuff. Who’s going to receive it? Who’s not going to receive it? Who’s going to stay? Who’s going to go? Who’s going to like it? Who’s going to be upset? You just have to learn to leave that completely into the hands of God. Because at the end of the day, you’re really not in this to please people. I mean, you’re doing this for an audience of one. And Paul here indicates that God is actually the one that’s going to hold him accountable. Back in verse 4, “just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the, gospel so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God.” In other words, I’m not accountable to people anyway. So why would I spend so much time trying to figure out what everybody likes and dislikes? Now, believe me, I’m not in favor of being rude and intentionally offensive. I’m not in favor of that as well. I’m in favor of being as copacetic as you can possibly be. But at the end of the day, you just have to make sure that your message is in alignment with what God says is important. And the philosophers of the day didn’t do that. What they would do is they would target people’s wants, needs, and desires. And they would come up with philosophical messages that appeal to people’s wants, needs, and desires.
And one of the things that really gets thrown out is God’s grace. Because the natural man really doesn’t want to hear about God’s grace, because the natural man wants to boast in his own salvation. So telling people that it’s a free gift is a deliberate assault on pride designed by God. But it’s God who’s going to evaluate me not all these people, Paul says. I’m just a steward. In First Corinthians 4:2, he says, “In this case, moreover, it is required of stewards.” Now we know what a steward is, right? A steward is not an owner. A steward is a manager. A steward manages something on behalf of the owner. The owner is God. The gospel is God’s. Our spiritual gifting is God’s. Your place of ministry is God gave that to you. So sometimes we have a tendency to think, Well, this belongs to me. It doesn’t belong to you. It doesn’t belong to me either. We’re just stewards. God is the owner. And then it says, “In the case, moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found-” successful. Oops. Doesn’t say that. That on be found, what? “Trustworthy.” I mean, the parable of the talents doesn’t say well done my good and successful servant, right? It says, Well done, my good and faithful servant. I mean, really, what God wants at the end of the day is being faithful to what He’s given you.
Leave the results, Good or bad, from the human perspective- Leave that in God’s hands. That’s the evaluation. At the Bema Seat judgment, which is not an evaluation to determine salvation- that issue got fixed the moment you trusted in Christ for personal salvation. This is an issue of reward. Some Christians are rewarded. Some aren’t. Some are rewarded greatly. Some are rewarded less. It has nothing to do with personal success. It has everything to do with trustworthiness to what God has given you. Because you’re not the owner, you’re just the steward. You manage on God’s behalf during this inner advent age while Jesus is not present on the Earth but He’s at the Father’s right hand. And is God really qualified to examine our motives this way? We’ll just look at the end of verse 4. “But God,” and I’m not pleasing men, but I’m pleasing God. “Who examines our hearts.” So God looks at people and can see right through them. I mean, He can see good motives and He could see impure motives. Wednesday night, We’re studying the Book of Acts. And we’re going to be coming up on Acts 1:24. I’m looking around here because I think I dropped a piece of paper. Maybe I got it upside down. Maybe that’s a problem. There’s- there we go. Here we go. I’ve got the first paper right side up and the remaining two upside down.
And not only are they backward, but they’re also upside down as well. So here we go. And this is part of ministry too. Figuring out that the guy behind the pulpit doesn’t necessarily have everything figured out. Amen. Acts 1:24 says, and this is concerning the replacing of Judas with Matthias. And Wednesday night we’re going to see that they- we’re praying not for God to make a choice amongst who’s going to replace Judas. But Lord, reveal to us Your choice. Pretty good rule of thumb to follow it. Sugar Land Bible Church when elders and deacons serve terms and they roll off their responsibilities and then we want to insert new elders and deacons. How do you even make that decision? You don’t say: God, choose. You say, Lord, you’ve already chosen. Now, let us in on whom you’ve chosen. Because this is Your church, not our church. And the leadership should be people that You have selected. And so in the selection process, in Acts 1:24, it says, “They prayed.” That’s a pretty good way to figure out, Whom have you picked, Lord? You pray. “And they prayed and said, ‘You, Lord, know the hearts of all men.” Which one of these two you have chosen? They got it down to two. And which one is it? Lord, give us your decision. And why is God qualified to give a decision like this? Because He knows the hearts of all men.
He’s omniscient. In fact, there’s a Greek word there. It’s sort of a combination of cardio, heart and gnósis, knowing. And basically what it means is heart knowing or the heart nor. God knows the hearts. So that’s why at the Bema Seat judgment, He’s in a position to evaluate us for our trustworthiness because He knows what’s in our hearts. He knows why we’re doing what we’re doing which is a pretty scary thing when you think about it. Because the book of Jeremiah 17:9, says, The human heart is a deceitful wicked above all things, who can understand it? And just because you got saved doesn’t mean you’re sin nature took a vacation. Have you noticed that? You have the power to tell the sin nature, No. But it doesn’t take a leave of absence. That doesn’t happen until glorification, which is rapture or death. And so there are all kinds of things happening in our hearts. That a lot of times we’re not even aware of wickedness. And there’s a lot of things happening in the hearts of other people that are wicked. So who’s going to be the next apostle here? You know, Lord, You know the hearts of this group. Reveal to us Your choice because You’re the heart knower. And Paul says, you know, at the end of the day, the reason I’m not interested in having a man-pleasing audience and I’m doing this for an audience of one because I’m accountable to God and God knows exactly what’s in my heart.
And he’s either going to reward me or not reward me at the Bema Seat judgment. So his message obviously is very pure, contrary to what people were saying about him. And not only was his message pure, but his motives were pure. He talks about that and verses 5 through 8. He says, for we never came with flattering speech, as you know. Not with a pretext of greed. God is witness. So he never really came to enrich himself. He didn’t come with flattering speech. He didn’t come to try to create a following. He didn’t interject human works into the gospel of grace to make the natural man somehow like him better. His goal was not to create a following that’s so big that he could benefit financially. Any conversions that happened, happened because of the sovereignty of God anyway. And he says, God knows. God knows here I’m telling the truth. And why would God know? Because God is the heart knower. And He’s just laying bare. That not only was his message pure, but his motives were pure. And all of these people running around just jealous out of jealousy, maligning him behind his back, he says what they’re saying is completely untrue. And unless I set the record straight, I’m not going to be in much of a position to correct you. And then you go down to verse 6 and he talks about how he really did not seek personal glory.
Nor did we seek glory from man, either from you or from others. You know, there are so many people, they want to get into the ministry because they think it’s going to meet some sort of psychological need in their lives. The truth is, if you get into it for that reason, you’re going to see real fast how hard it is. The ministry. And if you’re in it because it’s meeting some kind of psychological need in your life, you know that motive is not going to last very long. And it won’t be long till you leave the ministry. You cannot do it to seek personal glory. And then he says something else. Second part of verse 6, “Even though as apostles, we might have asserted our authority.” And I think what he’s talking about is a right that I think he’s going to develop more in second Thessalonians. It’s the right that you have to receive finances for your ministry. Receiving financial support for your ministry is actually of the Lord. It goes back to Luke 10:7. I mean, it goes back many places, but when Jesus sent out the- I think this was the 70. To offer the kingdom to Israel. And they were to go out and preach and say, repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
He told the seventy in Luke 10:7 to, “Stay in that house, eating and drinking what they give you; for the laborer is worthy of his wages.” But then he says, “Do not keep moving from house to house.” In other words. You’re in the ministry, you preach the gospel. In this case, it was the offer of the kingdom. And as people are benefited by that, the natural order of things is to receive financial support from the people that you have blessed spiritually. Paul, in the book of Galatians 6:6 says, “The one who is taught the word is to share all good things,” In this case, finances “is to
Share this Post
Who are they calling an ox here? “‘You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing,'” And then he says, “‘The laborer is worthy of his wages.'” So again, there’s that basic design of God that those that are benefited by the teaching of God’s Word are to share materially in that in that ministry. And when you study First Corinthians chapter 9, that’s what really the whole chapter is about, how Paul had a right to take financial support for his ministry. And he talks about things like, you know, the Tabernacle workers and the temple workers and the Old Testament. They didn’t serve at their own expense. And when one goes and fights in a war for a human nation, a human army, they don’t pay their own way. But right in the middle of Chapter 9, he says, But you know what? I have this right, but I’m not going to take it. Why? Because Paul, in his circumstances, didn’t want people to think that he was in the ministry for the money because he had all these people running around saying all kinds of things about him that were untrue. He says, I’ve got the right to receive it, but in this case I won’t take it because I want people to understand that woe is me if I don’t preach the gospel. And he’s most likely referring back to the book of Jeremiah 20:9 right in there, where Jeremiah is doing his ministry of prophesying.
And the religious authorities get angry at him. You notice it’s the religious authorities that are always clamping down on God’s work and they flog him publicly. And they throw them into a pit. And in fact, I’ve been to the land of Israel and I’ve actually seen the pit that they think he was thrown into. And our tour guide in prior trips was able to take people into that pit. They couldn’t take us into it because they were, I don’t know what they were doing, construction right around there and it wasn’t safe. But boy, I would have loved to get into that pit. Because I have a tendency to feel sorry for myself over certain things. And if I got into that pit, the Holy Spirit could use that to remind me, Well, you’re not in here at least, you know. So, you know, things in your life might be a little uncomfortable at the moment, but I mean, I don’t think anybody in here has been publicly flogged by a pastor, the high priest, or the priest and thrown into a pit. And Jeremiah in the pit just said, you know, I’m just. I quit. I quit. I’m not going to do this anymore. Every time God tells me to do something, people get mad at me, they flog me, they abuse me. So I’m done.
And it’s in Jeremiah 20, about verse 9 where Jeremiah says, You know what? The more I keep trying to hold in what God has called me to say it’s like a burning in my bosom. In fact, I’m getting tired of holding it in. I mean, every time I open my mouth, I get in trouble. But so I’m just going to keep my mouth shut. But it’s actually harder to keep my mouth shut. Because God’s word inside of them that he had given Jeremiah to his generation was like trying to shut something up in his bones. And Paul wanted people to understand that. That’s why he was in the ministry. He had this, what do they call it, burning in the bosom. And he didn’t want anybody to think that he was in the ministry because he was getting money for his services, even though getting money for one services is the design of God. So having said all that, that’s what- I think what he’s hinting at here in verse 6, “Even though as apostles of Christ we might have asserted our authority.” I could have come and asked for money. And I would have been completely in God’s will, but I didn’t. All these other philosophers that showed up on your doorstep. Boy, they were interested in money, but not me. So how in the world could you believe this lie about me that somehow my ministry motives are suspect. And you go down to verse 7 and he says, “But we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her children.”
I was gentle. I was nursing. I was just like a mama. Where, you know, as a kid, you scrape your knee. Your mom would say, Come over here, let’s put some- back then it was called mercurochrome. Do they still have that? Red stuff. And she would put it on the knee and. She goes, It’s going to sting a little bit. And then what would she do to the knee? She’d go, whew, you know. Am I the only one that this happened to? All right. And that’s how mommies are. You know, they’re nurturing. They’re I mean, and only a mother is equipped by God, really, to be this way, you know? To be nurturing, to be caring, to be sympathetic. I mean, the father, what does he say? You know, toughen up, you know, kind of thing. And it’s the mother that’s more of the nurturer. And so Paul says, When I was with you, I was like, your mom. And I was blowing on that cut knee. You know, I was caring for your needs. And then as you go down to verse 8, he says, I gave you the very best I had. Verse 8. “Having so fond and 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.” He says at the beginning of verse 8, We love you.
We continue to love you. That’s why we have a fond affection for you. And we gave you the very best we had. Now, what was, what’s the very best thing that he could have given them? He gave them the gospel. The good news of Jesus. Because that determines one’s eternity. See, and you can do all this humanitarian work for people. We call that the social gospel. I mean, you could come in and you could take care of their mortgage issue. You could- any hospital bills, we’ll pay those off. We’ll help you get out of financial problems. We’ll prepare meals around the clock. But if you don’t give him the gospel, you gave them second best. Because the very best you could give them is the gospel, because the humanitarian needs- and I’m not anti-humanitarian, the church should be involved in humanitarian projects. But social gospel says that’s all the church is supposed to do. Is Jimmy Carter, Habitat for Humanity. And you wonder, Well, that’s nice, but the food is going to feed someone for 24 hours. If that. What good does it do to feed someone for 24 hours if their soul goes into an eternal hell? Because you didn’t give him the gospel. So Paul says, We loved you and we give you the very best that we had. And that was the gospel. And then he says. We gave you, verse 8, our very lives.
And we gave you us. I mean, we loved you. We gave you our best, the gospel. And, but we kept giving. And so how in the world could you challenge my motives? We gave our very selves. There’s a number of classes I took in seminary that, to be completely honest with you, unless I went back over my notes I wouldn’t remember what they taught. Because they’re just not on my mind 24/7. But there are certain things that professors said that reverberate with me constantly. And those little tidbits were worth the price of tuition. One of them was a spiritual life class I had with a gentleman, a very good teacher. The name, Dr. Bill Lawrence. I think he’s now retired. And he said something one day in class, he says, You know what? The ministry is not about us. Meaning, all of the people that were in seminary with me, in my classmates, preparing for ministry. It’s not about us. It’s about them. Meaning the sheep. Because, in ministry, you can get confused on that. It’s about me. It’s about my academic credentials. It’s about what books I’ve contributed to, what books I’ve written. And it’s easy to forget. Well, it really isn’t about me. It’s about them. It’s about the sheep. And what you’ll discover with the gifts of the spirit is every single gift of the spirit, as far as I can tell, whether it’s leadership, administration, teaching, whatever mercy, every gift of the spirit targets somebody else.
Have you noticed that? The gifts of the spirit are not for us. Even though you’re probably no more- you’ll probably receive in life your greatest fulfillment. Operating in your spiritual gift. I mean, there’s nothing really more fulfilling than that. And I’ve had the opportunity to do a lot of things in this world, and nothing fulfills me more than operating in the spiritual gift that God has given me. But even receiving that personal gratification is not the purpose of the spiritual gift. The purpose of the spiritual gift is to be a blessing to somebody else. And so when Dr. Lawrence said, It’s not about us. It’s about them. That’s probably a statement I think about every single day. Although if you ask me, how about the rest of the course? I probably couldn’t. Tell you much off the top of my head. But I can tell you that off the top of my head, I just did. In Acts 20:35, Paul the Apostle said “In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus Christ, that He Himself said.” Now, here he gives a quote from Jesus that you can’t find anywhere else. So the Gospels apparently are not a complete comprehensive record on everything Jesus said or did. In fact, John, at the end of John’s gospel, says there were many other things Jesus said or did.
If I tried to write it all down, the world itself could not contain the books written thereof. So here Paul is referring to something Jesus said that’s only found here in Paul’s statement in Acts 20:31, as recorded in the Book of Acts by Dr. Luke. “The Lord Jesus Christ that He himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.” I mean, you’re blessed in life when you’re on the giving end. At the receiving end. Now we all need to receive, right? There’s nothing wrong with receiving. But really walking in fullness is being in a position where in your life you’re saying, It’s not about us, It’s not about me. It’s about them. That Jesus, Paul says, said that. It’s more blessed to give than it is to receive. He continues on there in verses 9 through 12 and he begins to talk about this method. And you look at verse 9 and he says, “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 the gospel to you.” How did if Paul forfeited his right to receive money, how did he support himself? Manual labor. Paul was blue-collar. As- by the way, was Jesus. Jesus, being raised in a carpenter’s home, obviously understood what it was like to get his fingernails dirty. The Bible, what you’ll discover about it is it’s a very pro manual labor, pro blue collar, pro working-class book.
And Paul supported himself through his trade as a tent maker. In fact, he’s going to make a reference to that in verse 8 of Second Thessalonians chapter 3. He says, “Nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with labor and hardship,” because manual labor is hard. “With labor and hardship we kept working night and day so that we would not be a burden to any of you.” So he didn’t want people to say, Well, Paul obviously is in the ministry for money, even though he had the right to receive support for his ministry. He says, I don’t want that accusation raised against me. I want people to understand that it’s burning in the bosom, that I’m weary of holding it in. And so keep your money. God doesn’t need your money. We say that here at Sugar Land Bible Church, don’t we? Have you noticed that we don’t pass an offering plate here? Now there’s offering boxes as you walk out, but they’re kind of inconspicuous. There’s no neon lights around them or anything. Because we want people to give if they want to give. Not under duress or compulsion. And if people don’t want to give, we don’t want their money. Keep your money. By the way. Hint, hint. It’s not your money anyway. It’s God’s money. And he’s going to have to teach you a few things on that down the road.
But, keep your money. Paul said, keep your money. I don’t, I don’t want your money. What’s important to me is the opportunity to preach the gospel in a blameless way. So I’m going to go support myself through tent making. When he was in nearby Corinth, he made the same statement or the same idea is said of him. “Because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them.” Remember, he wrote from Corinth to Thessalonica. So he’s describing now how he supported himself in Corinth when he was thrown out of Thessalonica. “And because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them and they were working, for by trade they were tent-makers.” Different than the pagan philosophers who would never get their fingernails dirty and always wanted financial support for what they were doing. So Paul- and we didn’t quite get through these verses today, but we’ll pick it up next time. In verse 11 where he’s continuing to defend his ministry message, motives, and method. Then he’ll be in a position to correct errant behavior and doctrine beginning in chapters 4 and 5. Let’s pray. Father, we’re grateful for Sunday school today. Grateful for your word, Your truth. Grateful for the Book of Thessalonians. Be with us as we take a look this morning at the Book of Genesis. We’ll be careful to give You all the praise and the glory. We ask these things In Jesus’ name, God’s people said… Happy mini-intermission.