We Had Boldness in our God
1 Thessalonians 2:1-2 ESV
“For you yourselves know, brothers, that our coming to you was not in vain. But though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict.”
I was reading in Psalms 139 earlier this morning regarding God’s sovereignty over our lives, how God knitted us together in the wombs of our mothers, and at least for those of us who are followers of Jesus, how all the days formed for us were written in God’s book before one of them came into being (1).
I contemplated how God allowed the things he allowed to take place in my life for a purpose. It doesn’t mean that he approved or that he caused any of them to happen, but he permitted them to take place. And everything that happened served a purpose in my life in making me who I am today.
And that is basically what Paul is talking about here, too. Paul and the other apostles’ boldness in sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ was enhanced by the things that they suffered for the sake of Christ and for his gospel. The opposition they faced to the preaching of the gospel only served to encourage them more to preach the truth of the gospel.
I know that is definitely the truth in my life. The suffering I have had to endure, the unjust treatments, and the opposition I have faced have only served to encourage me more to keep speaking the truth of the gospel and to keep opposing the lies so that many people will be delivered from their slavery to sin so that they can become bond-slaves of Jesus Christ.
Approved by God
1 Thessalonians 2:3-6 ESV
“For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts. 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.”
I believe it is important for us all to test our own hearts, from time to time, to check our own motives and attitudes, to make certain that our hearts are in the right place, and that we are doing and saying what we are doing and saying with good intent and under the direction of the Holy Spirit.
But people can do wrong things with good intentions, sometimes, so that can’t be the only measure of whether or not what we are doing and saying is the kinds of things the Lord wants us to do and say. We also need to make certain that what we do and say lines up with the truths of Scripture.
When we are certain that our hearts are in the right place, that we have the right motives, that we are operating in the power and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and that we are being true to the Scriptures (in context), then we can say with confidence that our speaking and our actions do not stem from error or impurity nor from any attempt to deceive others.
It is good, too, to make certain that we aren’t speaking from our own flesh, but that we are speaking in the power of God’s Spirit according to the truths of Scripture, and not according to any personal prejudices we might have picked up over the years.
And it is critical, too, that what we speak is to the honor and glory of God and not for the approval of other humans. If, when we speak (or write), we do so with the thought in mind of how many “likes” we are going to receive, then we are writing for the wrong motives.
Nonetheless, if when we speak or write we do so without thought to whether people are going to like us or not, but only for the glory of God, in his power, and for the good of our fellows humans, then our hearts are in the right place. And we will speak for the benefit of others, and not for ourselves.
Thus, we will be approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel when we speak to please God and not to please other humans. For if we are sharing a gospel message for the purpose of gaining human approval, then we aren’t sharing the whole counsel of God and the true gospel of salvation.
For, if we are genuinely sharing the truth of the gospel, in its fulness, the majority of people are not going to like it, for it does not tickle itching ears. It doesn’t tell them what they want to hear. It tells them what they need to hear, and so many will reject the gospel message, and they will reject us, too, for being the messengers.
But we are not to let that discourage or dishearten us. We need to be motivated even more to get the truth out to as many as will listen.
Like a Nursing Mother
1 Thessalonians 2:7-8 ESV
“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.”
I have four children of my own. They are all in their 40s now. When they each were babies, I nursed them, some for shorter times, and some for longer times. There is a close bond that forms (or that should form) between a mother and her babies, which I believe is enhanced by breast feeding the infants.
Well, that is how we should treat those who are under our care, and/or to whom we are imparting God’s word. But “gentle” does not mean weak or compromising of truth so as not to hurt people’s feelings. For the truth hurts sometimes, but the truth is what we need to hear.
But we should have that kind of loving affection for the people to whom we are ministering God’s word. But even having this kind of loving affection does not mean we back away from sharing the hard truths of Scripture so as not to offend others. They need to hear the truth! We all do!
This kind of love for others is indeed self-sacrificial. For, if we are teaching the truth, although some will love us for it, others will hate and despise us or want nothing to do with us because we are speaking truth they don’t want to hear, because they don’t want to feel guilty about their sins.
So, we need the Lord’s help to remain steadfast in our faith, to not back down, and to not compromise truth or our morals in order to be liked and accepted by others. We need to speak boldly the word of God but also with reserved strength and with loving affection for those to whom we are ministering.
Jesus, Rescue Me
An Original Work / September 18, 2011
Based off of Romans 7:7-8:39
Jesus, rescue me today.
Listen while I bow and pray.
I need Your help to obey You;
Live for You always.
Meet me in my hour of need, Lord,
As I pray to You.
Help me walk in fellowship, Lord,
Living in Your truth.
Jesus, how I long for You to
Change my heart anew.
Father, God, my heart’s desire
Is to live for You this hour
In Your Holy Spirit’s power
Living in me now.
Teach me to walk in Your love, Lord,
Guiding me each day.
Help me to show love and kindness
To the lost, I pray.
Father, teach me to love others
As You love always.
Holy Spirit come in pow’r.
Revive our hearts in this hour.
Change our hearts to be like You, Lord;
Live for You each day.
Help us to forsake our sins, Lord,
As we humbly pray.
Teach us how to live for You, Lord,
Obey You always.
Holy Spirit come in power,
Revive us today.