In this chapter, Paul recalls his ministry at Thessalonica. Even as he talks about being mistreated in Philippi, his suffering and persecution didn’t stop him from moving on to Thessalonica and declaring the gospel there. His willingness to suffer in order to share the gospel proved that he wasn't motivated by money or his own glory. Paul continues on and says that God had trusted him with this gospel message. In fact, Paul says that he had been ‘approved by God’ to be a steward of the gospel. The word “approved” used here, means to be validated through testing. Paul’s many trials as a messenger of the gospel demonstrated his devotion to the spread of God’s Kingdom.
As someone entrusted by God to spread the gospel, Paul wasn’t speaking in order to please humans, but to honor God. This is why he can confidently say in verse 4, “Our purpose is to please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of our hearts.” Paul knew that in order to accomplish the mission God had for him, he would have to be focused on pleasing God instead of people. Why? Because God alone examines the motives of the heart.
How often do you and I get distracted or pulled away from the mission God has for us because of our need to please others? Oftentimes the thing that gets in the way of our obedience to God is somebody else’s opinion. Don’t believe me? When’s the last time you didn’t go up and pray for the person God told you to because you didn’t want to ‘embarrass’ yourself? We have to remember that success in the Kingdom of God is obedience. And obedience comes by our actions aimed with the intent to please God.
As Paul continues in this chapter, he explains that he cares for the Thessalonians. So much so that he says in verse 8, “we loved you so much that we shared with you not only God’s Good News but our own lives, too.” Paul says that he wasn’t just sharing information or knowledge with the Thessalonians. He was sharing and living his life with them. This is why I love Life Groups. Just like Paul is teaching the Thessalonians, you and I don’t have to go through this life alone. The journey of faith was never meant to be a road that we walk alone. We have people and community that are committed to walking this journey with you every step of the way. People that want to not only share God’s Good News with you, but share life with you as well.
Paul goes on to say that he was gentle among the Thessalonian believers. That he wouldn’t be a burden to them because he provided for his own needs, working part-time as a tentmaker. Paul details in verses 9-12 how hard he worked in order to share the gospel message with the believers in Thessalonica. Because of this, the Thessalonians could see that Paul was a righteous servant of God, almost as if he were a spiritual father to them. And just like a spiritual father who is concerned for his children, Paul says, “We pleaded with you, encouraged you, and urged you to live you lives in a way that God would consider worthy. For he called you to share in his Kingdom and glory.”
Paul thanks God for the Thessalonians, because they had responded positively to the Word of God, and the Word had produced fruit in their lives. The Thessalonian believers had become like the Judean believers by holding strong to their faith even through great persecution. Which leads Paul to say that those believers are his pride and joy! That they will be his reward and crown when he stands before the Lord Jesus. And just like Paul leaves this warm message for the Thessalonians, you can share in this same blessing. How? It goes back to Paul’s words in verse 12: to live your life in a way that God would consider worthy. Paul pleaded and urged the believers in Thessalonica to do this, with the promise that when they do, it brings him great joy as their spiritual father.
Today whether you’re facing persecution, or just dealing with the consequences of your actions, you have a choice. You can choose to fall into temptation, to throw in the towel and give up. Or you can choose to stand firm in the face of persecution. To live your life in a way that walks in a manner worthy of your calling. Because God has called you to share in His Kingdom and His glory.