Continuing from yesterday, Paul here in 1 Thessalonians 2 reminds this ancient church that Paul’s visit to them hadn’t been a failure. Yes – the missionaries had arrived in town feeling perhaps somewhat down. They’d just been in Philippi – and had suffered greatly at the hands of the people there. But even Philippi hadn’t been a failure: there was a nascent church in the city when the missionaries left. The Thessalonians knew what had gone on in Philippi. And they also knew that despite that, the missionaries had spoken God’s good news boldly to them – even when opposed afresh in Thessalonica.
Paul and co hadn’t come preaching with ulterior motives, either. They spoke as messengers approved by God. They acted to please God, not people, and so their message wasn’t always what people expected to hear. Unlike charlatans, they didn’t use deceit or tricks or flattery. Their motives were pure. They didn’t go around pretending to be friends in order to scam money. All that they sought was the praise of God. I pray that I would be able to say the same about my ministry as Paul did.
Sure, apostles – and church workers today – have a right to make some demands on those they share the gospel with. But Paul reminds the Thessalonians how he hadn’t done that. They’d toiled to make a living so as not to burden any of the Thessalonians. They treated them as more than friends – like family. Paul says they acted like a Father to the Thessalonians – pleading with them, encouraging them, urging them to live lives that God would consider worthy – because the Thessalonians had been called to share in God’s kingdom and mercy.
I pray that as I seek to serve God’s church here that I too would consider and treat those in the congregation in a similar manner to that of Paul. Is it wrong for me to be paid? No – in fact, Paul notes that that is a legitimate right. But what is even better is when my rights are of lesser importance to me than seeing this congregation grow in their knowledge of, walk with, and imitation of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Lord – make it so, I pray. Make me more like you – and help me to serve you and your people faithfully.