“You know, brothers, that our coming to you was not in vain. Though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi, we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict. 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. We never came with words of flattery, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness. Nor did we seek glory from people,.. though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ. 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.
“For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. You are witnesses, and God also, how holy and righteous and blameless was our conduct toward you believers. For you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.
“And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.” 1 Thessalonians 2:1-13
His experience of suffering, shameful treatment, and conflict could have aroused retaliation, deception, asserting of rights, or boasting. All would have been justified had he been earthly-bound and self-protective. But Paul had one desire: to proclaim the gospel and see Jesus change lives, and so his every ounce of energy, intent, and emotion was spent to that end.
God’s word is powerful, living, and unchanging in every situation. Only the Lord makes it take root and grow. But life offers many conditions into which we spread the gospel, and we would be prudent to apply the right combination of motivation and grace when we do so. The first hint of falseness, trickery, greed, self-exaltation, or hypocritical mismatch for our message will repel otherwise earnest seekers. (Psalm 119:89; 1 Corinthians 3:6-7; Hebrews 4:12)
God fashioned an attractive combination in Paul of boldness for Christ’s sake, parental affection, and gentle forthrightness. He was a hard worker, above reproach in character, unselfish, and he allowed the power of the Spirit free flow. The proof of his effectiveness in ministry is the Thessalonians themselves, who received God’s truth, welcomed its work in their lives, and passed it on. (1 Thessalonians 1:4-8)
Are there persnickety attitudes, annoying idiosyncrasies, or selfish habits that limit our willingness or fruitfulness in God’s work? How worthy of God’s honor is our walk? How warm is our heart, and appealing our manner? Do we prefer and pamper ourselves more than those the Lord has placed in our lives? Do we look to take advantage of every perk, or of unsuspecting people, rather than set ourselves aside for the gospel’s sake?
Lord, work Your word in me so it can work through me. May every aspect of my life preach Your gospel.