The teachings of the apostle Paul can help all of us to examine our hearts and lives through the gospel of Jesus Christ. In Chapter 2 Paul probes deeply into the kind of life that enables any of us to function as role models. According to Paul, ministry seems to be the best possible motivation for serving God. Is it important to have a large following of believers or that we are all growing through God’s grace by the right spiritual principles? Like Paul, we too can thank God to be entrusted with the gospel to please Him. How can we align our spiritual hopes so that we will please God and have the right influence on others? What can we learn about the Thessalonians and their faith? Paul recalled the trip from Philippi to Thessalonica and the painful treatment involved in that experience.
Somehow the Thessalonians proved so eager to have known the truth. We can easily imagine that Satan told Paul and Silas not to preach again, but we are sure that God whispered to them to “Be Bold.” They obeyed God while knowing that persecution would arise again. We can discern a strong visible contrast between their human problems and their empowerment by God. Paul and Silas were not seeking praise from people, nor did they use flattery to cover up greed or tricks. They tried to be encouraging and comforting as others were urged to live lives worthy of God’s expectations.
To the Thessalonians, Paul pointed out character traits of the speaker involved and the quality or logic of the speeches to believers that led to great changes in those people at that time. Paul described the need for ministry to others. We must continue praying to God for opportunities to do good for others without being motivated somehow by the wrong ideas. The boldness experienced by Paul and Silas was made possible only by the power of God.
Do human beings need a sense of worth in order to function? Is worth sought by the accumulation of possessions, achievements or by praise that others express about us? Most sources of self-worth are temporary. Lasting self-worth is found only by God in the gospel and in the message of the cross that cannot be shaken by the world! Knowing that we belong to God adds value to our lives.
Paul’s main goal for ministry is to please God (I Thess. 2:6-8). In today’s world, money and power often control human behavior. As advised by Paul who tells us that greed, immorality, deception and flattery have no place in our lives. In verse 18, we learn that Satan blocked Paul and Silas as they tried to visit the Thessalonians. It is not known by what means Satan used to prevent their continued fellowship. With these thoughts in mind, Paul revealed his emotions as it seemed important to have and to show genuine concern for the people whom he wanted to reach. That is also important today as our individual spiritual development defines itself through the power of God.
Paul worked toward spiritual stability of the new converts in Thessalonica and took action to see how they were doing, and to encourage them in their faith in God. We also need to feel greatly encouraged by fellow Christians. We can read to learn more about Paul’s missionary activities. As we see Paul wrestling with daily issues, we can learn how to better apply the principles as Paul was guiding early Christians through challenging times!
What enabled Paul to maintain such spiritual strength? He had been captured by the love of Christ. A change was real to Paul who was saved by Jesus who also gave him a mission. The apostle Paul understood words of encouragement. In all of his letters he promoted godly attitudes and actions. He always commended such behavior after his conversion. It is also good for us to notice and applaud the positive efforts of others. Then watch the difference in praiseworthy interactions!
While continuing to care for others, Paul and Silas crossed much of the Mediterranean world. Paul also set out with Silas for a tour through Syria and Cilicia. With a call to Macedonia, Silas and other men accompanied Paul. Even when they were jailed in Philippi, they found time to praise God and Paul preached to the jailer. Silas spent much time serving God, crossing land and sea with Paul, but seemingly got little public commendation. Do we need credit for all we do or will do or will we be faithful like Silas? We need not waste time and energy worrying about human credit for any good deeds done on earth because God knows our motives and knows about our deeds.
In the end, the Lord used the circumstances of Paul and Silas to His glory. The visible persecution provided proof that the gospel they preached truly came from their personal advantages (1 Thessalonians 2:3-6). It was definitely clear that God was with Paul and Silas in a mighty way! Their preaching was not just an intellectual exposition, but was accompanied by the living presence of the Lord (verse 13). Let us continue accepting opportunities to work for God who is forever faithful!
Mrs. Gladys R. McElmore, a resident of Norfolk’s Middle Town Arch Community, is a New Journal and Guide Freelance Contributor on religion. She is a native of Essex County, Va.