Father, help me to set aside all of the distractions in my mind and heart so that I can focus on what you have for me in your Word today.
Read 1 THESSALONIANS 2:1–12
Paul’s Ministry in Thessalonica
2 You know, brothers and sisters, that our visit to you was not without results. 2 We had previously suffered and been treated outrageously in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in the face of strong opposition. 3 For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you. 4 On the contrary, we speak as those approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts. 5 You know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed—God is our witness. 6 We were not looking for praise from people, not from you or anyone else, even though as apostles of Christ we could have asserted our authority. 7 Instead, we were like young children[a] among you.
Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, 8 so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well. 9 Surely you remember, brothers and sisters, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you. 10 You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed. 11 For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, 12 encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.
- 1 Thessalonians 2:7 Some manuscripts were gentle
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘Thine be the glory, risen conquering Son!’1
Those of us who preach or teach (on matters of faith or otherwise) have a difficult line to tread. We want to persuade our congregations or audiences, and so use language and techniques that will make our message appealing—but is there a danger that we slide into trying to impress our listeners mainly because it makes us feel good? Persuading others can be addictive. It seems that Paul himself may have been accused of preaching to the Thessalonians in order to bolster his status. He repeatedly defends himself from suggestions that he has been trying to please them, trick them, use flattery, or look for praise (vv. 3–6).
What’s the antidote to this temptation? It comes in two parts. First, focusing on serving and loving others for their sake can shift our attention away from our own desire for glory—or, in Paul’s case, demonstrate that we are not self-motivated. Paul delightfully uses idealized images of parenthood to describe how he cared for the Thessalonians, nurturing them like a nursing mother (v. 7b) and training them up like a father ‘encouraging, comforting and urging [his children] to live lives worthy of God’ (v. 12). He completes the family portrait in saying that he also acted like an infant among them (v. 7a), in refraining from asserting his authority. (Note that some manuscripts replace ‘young children’ with ‘gentle’— there is only a one letter difference between them in the Greek.2)
Second, remember that God knows our innermost desires, more closely than we know them ourselves. Coming daily before God, who ‘tests our hearts’ (v. 4), is the best way to uncover those self-serving motivations that subtly creep into our lives. God is the only audience that we rightly seek to please. May we ever seek to glorify him, not ourselves.
Are you trying to please God in your life, or people (v. 4)? Where do you need the Holy Spirit to uncover what is in your heart?
Mighty God, I know that my heart is deceitful. As I seek to serve you, please show me where my motives are self-centered, where I need to return you to your rightful place. In all things, help me to seek first your glory and honor.
Last Updated on February 5, 2024 by kingstar