Self-Sacrificial Service to 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.”

We, as followers of Jesus Christ, should never let opposition, no matter who it is coming from, discourage us from following Jesus Christ with our lives. We should never let other people’s opinions of us or their treatment of us determine who we are or who we will become or what we will or will not do. For we are never to fear other humans and what they might do to us.

We should always remember that greater is He who is within us than he who is in the world. We should never forget that God is still King, that he is still in control, and that he is absolutely still sovereign over all his creation. And we should never forget that the enemy can only do what God allows and that he has no power over us or over God. So we don’t have to fear him.

Daily we should apply the armor of God to our lives in order to fight off the devil’s schemes against us. It is much harder when we are weak physically, when we don’t feel well, and if we don’t really have much support at all from others. But it is not impossible, for nothing is impossible with God, within his perfect will. So, don’t let your circumstances control what you do.

Be bold in the Lord and in his strength and do what he commands. Share the gospel with the people of the world and with others who profess faith in Jesus Christ but who are not living for the Lord. Stand strong on the truth even when others who say they believe in Jesus are following a gospel not of God but of man. Do what is right even if others don’t.

1 Thessalonians 2:3-4 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.”

When we are following the Lord Jesus Christ with our lives we are going to have people who are going to question our motives for why we do what we do. We will even have some who will decide our motives for us as though they can see inside our hearts when they can’t, and when they may not even know us at all, but they may just be making a surface judgment.

First we should test our own hearts to make certain that our motives are as pure as we think, for it is possible that we might, at times, be blinded to our own motives for why we do what we do. And then when and if the Lord assures us that our motives are pure we can confidently say that we have no hidden agendas and that our hearts are in the right place.

But not everyone can say that, you know, for there are many wolves in sheep’s clothing, mere charlatans, who are leading much of God’s flock astray. Their motives are not pure, and they are teaching what is in error, and they are definitely attempting to deceive. For they are workers of iniquity who serve Satan who don’t want us following Jesus in obedience.

But we should not be like them. We should be those who believe God, who believe his word, and who are teaching the purity of the word of God and not this diluted and altered gospel message which appeals to human flesh. We should do what we do to please God and not to please humans. And we should tell people that they must die to sin and follow Jesus in obedience.

1 Thessalonians 2:5-6 ESV

“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.”

When we share the gospel of Jesus Christ with others we need to do it in all clarity and honesty and purity of heart. We should never say anything false in order to appease human flesh or so that people will like us. We don’t need to speak with fancy words or phrases and especially not to impress others. But we just need to be honest, loving, kind, and caring about people.

We also should not do what we do out of some kind of greed hoping to get something for ourselves. We should do what we do self-sacrificially, always thinking of what is best for others. We should lay our lives down, seeking nothing for ourselves, in order to see others find the truth and to follow the truth and to be delivered from their lives of slavery to sin.

I can tell you honestly that if you are truly sharing the gospel that Jesus and his NT apostles taught, and if you are doing it to seek glory from other people, then you are on the wrong path. You may get some encouragement here and there, but the vast majority, at least here in America, are not going to be singing your praises. They may be chiding you behind your back.

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.”

Gentle does not mean weak. Gentle does not mean that we don’t speak the truth in love and with boldness. Gentle does not mean we compromise the truth or we refuse to tell others the truth so as not to offend them with the truth. But in this sense gentle is described here as like a nursing mother taking care of her own children.

I birthed four children of my own, and I nursed all four of them for a period of time, some shorter and some longer. So I identify with this. There is a close bond that develops or should develop between a mother and her child, in particular if she is nursing her child. She wants what is best for her child. She wants to make sure he/she is cared for and has all that he/she needs.

Well, if we care about the body of Christ, our fellow Christians, like this, with this motherly kind of love, we are going to do and to say what we know is best for them, for their good. We will want to make certain that they are well nourished with the purest of the milk of God’s word, so we won’t dilute it or alter it in any way, but we will give it to them in its purest form.

Feelings come and feelings go so we should not base what we do on how we feel, but there should be a loving affection that we feel for the body of Christ and a deep desire within our hearts to make certain, as much as we are able, that they are hearing the truth, which is for their good, and that we are encouraging them to daily apply the truth they are hearing to their lives.

Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer

Lyrics by Thomas O. Chisholm, 1897
Music by W. J. Kirkpatrick, 1897

Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.

Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.

O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.

O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.

Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.

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