When one studies the works of the apostle Paul, it becomes very apparent that he had a great deal of concern and love for the ones with which he worked. One of those groups was the church of the Thessalonians. Along with Silvanus and Timotheus, Paul expressed his care for the congregation when he wrote, “We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers; Re-membering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father; Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God” (1 Thess. 1:2-4). How wonderful it is to read of Christians praying and remembering one another.
Later in the letter, Paul took the opportunity to describe just how strong his care for the brethren was. He explained, “For yourselves, brethren, know our entrance in unto you, that it was not in vain: But even after that we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi, we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention” (1 Thess. 2:1-2). Even though there was strong opposition, Paul made it clear that He and his fellow workers were “bold” in their proclamation of the Gospel. The attempts that were made to dissuade these men were unsuccessful. The Thessalonians needed to hear the Gospel, and Paul made sure that they did!
When the time came to preach and teach, Paul wrote, “For our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile: But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts” (1 Thess. 2:3-4). Paul knew that his work was of extreme importance. He and his fellow laborers took the duty that was upon them very seriously. God had trusted them with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and they were not going to allow anything or anyone to stop them from proclaiming It to the Thessalonians. They were more concerned about pleasing God than pleasing men. Oh, how wonderful it would be if every person that claimed to preach the Gospel would have that attitude today!
Further, Paul indicated, “For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloak of covetousness; God is witness: Nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ” (1 Thess. 2:5-6). It does not take much effort to understand just how important the purity of the Gospel was to Paul. While some might have taken advantage of those to whom they preached, Paul did not do such. Paul was not “in it for the money”. Before he departed from the Ephesian elders, Paul bluntly stated, “I have coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel” (Acts 20:33). The Gospel is the only “power of God unto salvation”, and Paul was not willing to “water it down” for any price (Rom. 1:16). When he wrote to the church in Corinth, Paul declared, “For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ” (2 Cor. 2:17). Also he wrote, “Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God” (2 Cor. 4:1-2).
It was then that Paul used a beautiful illustration to convey how he, Silvanus, and Timotheus treated the brethren in Thessalonica. “But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children: So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us” (1 Thess. 2:7-8). There are few greater depictions of love and care than that of a mother and her children. Most mothers would sacrifice and suffer for the betterment of her babies. That is the way that Paul felt toward his brethren. Not only did he and his fellow workers risk mistreatment and abuse in order that the Gospel could be spread, but they were willing to give themselves for their brethren. Do we love the Gospel and the souls of men with that type of dedication and fervor? Do we truly understand the importance of what we are to be doing? It is my hope that we develop such an attitude in our own lives.
~ Corey Barnette