1 Thessalonians 2 Commentary Verses 5-8

My sons have been engaged in shoveling driveways in our neighborhood this winter. And in a few cases, it seems that the person whom they’re trying to serve is almost doing them a favor. But a significant number of those whom the boys are trying to serve are very appreciative of the help.

And especially when its evident to me that my sons are serving others with right motives – that is, they’re not just trying to make money – but to really be a blessing to others – when that happens, not only are the people receiving the service pleased. I’m pleased, as well. I see what my boys are doing and I get an idea of the heart from which they’re doing it – and I am pleased.

Others are getting the service. But I am the one who is pleased.

And we see a similar situation going on in the lives of Paul and Silas and the Thessalonian believers to whom they were ministering.

So, please join me in 1 Thessalonians 2:4 to see this.

Because that is the verse that we left off with in our last message. It was there that Paul had stated how he spoke to these believers in Thessalonica. He spoke to them in such a way as to not please men primarily. His speaking was aimed at pleasing God.

And of course, the purpose of his speaking to these folks in Thessalonica was in order to do them a spiritual service. He was seeking to serve them spiritually with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

And so, what we’re going to see tonight is Paul continuing and expounding on this thought of God-Pleasing Spiritual Service to Others.

How do you know if your serving others in spiritual ways is pleasing to God? Paul gives us – I believe – 7 indications of God-pleasing spiritual service to others in 1 Thessalonians 2:5-8. So, let’s read that together.

1 Thessalonians 2:5–8 AV 1873

5 For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloke of covetousness; God is witness:

6 nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ.

7 But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children:

8 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.

So, we’ll begin by noting that the first indication that our spiritual service to others is pleasing to God is found in verse 5.

Verse 5

1 Thessalonians 2:5 AV 1873

5 For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloke of covetousness; God is witness:

And that is that our speech to them is genuine and honest. We’re not using flattering words with people as we seek to serve them.

For

And of course, this little word “for” indicates that Paul is looking back to something that he’s previously stated. And now he’s going to expound on it.

As we’ve already said, verses 5-8 explain the statement Paul made in verse 4 that he and Silas didn’t speak to the Thessalonians as if they were doing so to please men. They spoke in such a way as to please God first and foremost.

used we

And this little phrase is the main idea of verses 5 and 6. Our KJV renders this one Greek word as “used we”. And in the context that makes sense.

But this word actually refers – not to a state of doing – but to a state of being.

•           Paul later in this passage in verse 7 will say that he and Silas were (our word) gentle among the Thessalonian believers (1 Thessalonians 2:7). This was their character.

•           And then Paul states in verse 10 that he and Silas were just and blameless and holy among those believers. Again, this was their character. It was who they were.

So, Paul here in verse 5 is reminding the Thessalonians of what he and Silas were like when they were in their midst. What their character was.

Three Aspects of Apostolic Character

And then Paul reminds the Thessalonians of three aspects of his character – of his and Silas’ being – among them.

And these aspects are denoted in our passage by the words “neither” or “nor”. You see those two words used a total of 5 times in this verse and in verse 6.

neither … flattering words

So, here’s the first aspect of Paul and Silas’ character among the Thessalonians. They were not characterized by the use of “flattering words”.

And I’m going to show you from another passage in the New Testament what it looks like to use flattering words. And then we’ll see a contrast in how Paul himself was in the habit of speaking.

Flattering Words

In Acts 24 we have the account of Paul being held in prison in Herod’s palace in the city of Caesarea. Some unbelieving Jews come down from Jerusalem to accuse Paul before the governor Felix.

And this is how the prosecuting attorney for the unbelieving Jews starts:

Acts 24:2–4 AV 1873

2 And when he was called forth, Tertullus began to accuse him, saying, Seeing that by thee we enjoy great quietness, and that very worthy deeds are done unto this nation by thy providence,

3 we accept it always, and in all places, most noble Felix, with all thankfulness.

4 Notwithstanding, that I be not further tedious unto thee, I pray thee that thou wouldest hear us of thy clemency a few words.

And then after fawning over Felix, Tertullus goes on to accuse Paul of being a troublemaker and one who stirs up riots, etc.

Words That Are Not Flattering

Now, let’s compare that elaborate and flattering and flowery oration given by Tertullus to Paul’s simple introduction to his defense:

Acts 24:10 AV 1873

10 Then Paul, after that the governor had beckoned unto him to speak, answered, Forasmuch as I know that thou hast been of many years a judge unto this nation, I do the more cheerfully answer for myself:

Paul says that he’s assured that Felix is acquainted with the customs and history of the Jews. And then Paul goes on to make his defense.

But do you see the difference?

The first example with Tertullus is full of effuse praise for Felix in an attempt to win his favor.

Paul’s approach wasn’t unpleasant or combative. But neither was it an attempt to win over Felix with excessive praise for the man himself. And as you read on in that narrative, you get the distinct sense that Paul wasn’t trying to please the governor with the governor’s own greatness – Paul was trying to amaze Felix with God’s greatness and the greatness of the gospel.

And this lack of flattery wasn’t Paul’s approach only with government officials. He took this approach with everyone – including these folks in Thessalonica. And we should, too.

as ye know

And the Thessalonians could attest to this fact. They knew that this wasn’t Paul’s way of operating – by flattering people.

Genuine Honest Speech #1 Indication of God-Pleasing Spiritual Service to Others

So, when we give the gospel to people, we need to not be so concerned to impress them – especially with their own supposed wonderfulness. Because the gospel is primarily a humbling message – not one that puffs people up about themselves.

To proclaim the gospel to others while at the same time affirming how great and excellent they are is like mixing godly Christ-exalting words with sensual fleshly music. It’s confusing. The verbal message and what accompanies that message are in dissonance with one another.

When we communicate the gospel to people, let’s not attempt to impress them with themselves. Let’s impress them with God – his holiness and justice and love and forgiveness. Let’s not flatter people.

So, that’s the first indication given to us in this passage of what God-Pleasing Spiritual Service to Others looks like.

And we’ll move on to a second indication of this kind of service. And that’s a total lack of covetousness.

nor a cloke of covetousness

This also happens to be the second aspect of Paul and Silas’ character that they highlight for the Thessalonians. They didn’t speak to the Thessalonians pretending that they were there for spiritual purposes – but really in their hearts they just wanted money.

 The word cloke is translated elsewhere in the KJV as “pretense” or “show”.

•           According to Jesus, this pretense or show is what some hypocritical religious people make when they offer long prayers in front of others. Now, there’s nothing wrong with long prayers – if they’re genuine. But in the mind of some people, the longer the prayer – the better they look. The holier they appear. The more puffed-up they are. The more they despise others. And the less they know their own desperate need of Christ’s forgiveness (Mark 12:40; Luke 20:47).

•           And the main “problem” for these kinds of people who make pretense of their religious exercises … is that Jesus came to this world. And Jesus can see through hypocritical displays of religious devotion. He said that if he had not come and spoken to them, their sin would not have been revealed to them. But since he did come, they now have no cloke – our word here – for their sin (John 15:22). They can’t keep going on pretending like they have no sin.

•           Amazingly, some people actually use the gospel in this pretentious kind of way. They’re not sincere about it. They actually proclaim the truth about Jesus Christ – but they’re not genuine in their motives (Philippians 1:18).

And Paul says that he’s not doing that with the gospel. He wasn’t coming to the Thessalonians trying to hide anything.

But what might someone in his position be tempted to try to hide about his defective character? Paul mentions covetousness.

•           This sin resides in the human heart (Mark 7:22). It deceives us into thinking that the transient stuff of this life is all that there is to our existence (Luke 12:15). So get as much of it as you can! – is the idea.

•           Covetousness is a classic vice of people who don’t know Christ – who haven’t been saved or born-again by placing their faith in Jesus (Romans 1:29; Ephesians 4:19).

•           And because of this, this greedy covetousness needs to be far from those of us who know Christ (Ephesians 5:3). Because you are saints. You’re holy ones. This is not your life anymore.

•           You’re actually told to put this sin of covetousness and others to death in your life as a believer (Colossians 3:5).

•           And true believers need to be warned to avoid so-called Christian teachers who display this characteristic of covetousness in their lives (2 Peter 2:3,14).

And that’s why Paul mentions this here and reminds the Thessalonians that this was not one of his signature characteristics. He was not ministering among those believers in order to make a profit off of them – like some in fact do.

God is witness

And this time, it isn’t just the Thessalonians who are called to testify to the truth of Paul’s assertion – that his character lacked covetousness.

He did call on the Thessalonians to bear witness to the fact that he didn’t seek to impress them with themselves. He didn’t seek to flatter them.

But when it comes to the matter of his not using religion to secretly make money off of these folks, he’s able with a clear conscience to call God to be a witness to this reality.

at any time

And Paul can also say that he didn’t try to flatter and that he didn’t secretly desire money from the Thessalonians at any time. He never did this. Not once.

Total Lack of Covetousness #2 Indication of God-Pleasing Spiritual Service to Others

So, as you serve others, be careful not to do so out of covetousness.

Don’t do it for money. Don’t do it even for self-advancement in any form.

May the words of the hymn be true of your motivations as you serve others:

“I don’t ask for riches.

I don’t ask for fame.

I don’t ask that honor be heaped upon my name.”

And if this is your approach to serving others, you can be assured that it contributes to an overall service that pleases God.

Tying Verse 5 Back to Verse 4

So, to summarize verse 5 – and to tie it back to verse 4 – Paul’s refusal to flatter people corresponds to what he said about his speech at the end of verse 4. He spoke not as seeking to please people. Flattery would have been an attempt to please people. Paul says “I didn’t do it – ever.” And since people would have known whether he did this or not, he affirms this truth by calling them to testify to the truth of what he’s saying about never flattering them.

And then what we just heard about this “cloke of covetousness” and how Paul refused to harbor secret greed in his heart as he came to these people in Thessalonica – that also corresponds to what Paul said at the end of verse 4 about his speaking to the Thessalonians with the sole aim of pleasing God. God alone would have known the motives of Paul. And that’s why Paul called God – and not the Thessalonians – to be a witness to the reality of his claim.

So, a lack of flattery and covertousness are two aspects of God-pleasing apostolic Christian character. And they’re also two indications that your spiritual service to others pleases God.

Verse 6

1 Thessalonians 2:6 AV 1873

6 nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ.

Then we come to the third indication of spiritual service to others that pleases God. And that’s the matter of rejecting any sense that you are the star of the show. You ignore any impulse within yourself toward self-aggrandizement. You don’t seek glory for yourself.

nor of men sought we glory

And this is also the third and last aspect of Paul’s character that he mentions in this passage.

It’s the matter of seeking glory.

•           Jesus identifies seeking glory from other humans – rather than from God alone – as an obstacle to true faith (John 5:44).

•           And that’s illustrated in the gospel of John where there were numerous people who believed Jesus – even among the Sanhedrin – the ruling religious and civic body of the Jews. But they didn’t confess Jesus for fear that they would be banished from the synagogue. And here’s John’s summary of what was going on in their hearts – they loved the praise/glory of men more than the praise/glory of God (John 12:42-43).

•           Jesus said that speaking “from yourself” means that you’re seeking your own glory (John 7:18). And he didn’t do that. Instead, he spoke what his Father wanted him to say (John 8:50).

•           Jesus very plainly stated that during his time on earth in the flesh he did not receive honor/glory from men (John 5:41).

And so, Jesus and Paul are our examples in this. We need to seek glory and honor and praise – not from people – but from God alone.

That’s what you’re to be doing.

•           Not seeking popularity with your peers or from the social media internet mob.

•           Not seeking acceptance and respect among people in this community or in your profession at work.

•           And especially not doing these things if it means that you need to somehow sweep God under the rug. As if you need to kind of hide him in the closet of your life so that those from whom you’re seeking glory don’t discover God’s rightful claims on your life and – oh no! – they might stop praising you.

Now, if you’re serving the Lord, others might praise you. They might honor you – especially if they’re valuing your genuine faith in Christ and service to him and for his sake. But the point is that we shouldn’t seek this out. Our aim in life should not be to seek glory and praise and honor from people.

neither of you

Paul didn’t.

And he didn’t seek this glory from any person.

He didn’t seek it from the Thessalonians.

nor yet of others

And he didn’t seek this glory from anyone else with whom he came in contact.

Rejecting Self-Aggrandizement #3 Indication of God-Pleasing Spiritual Service to Others

It’s undeniable that as you attempt to serve others in a spiritual way, you’ll be tempted to seek to make yourself look good. You’ll covet people’s praise. You’ll want to be highly acclaimed and thought-of. You’ll want people to glorify you.

But why are you serving people in the first place? Isn’t it to glorify Christ in your life and theirs?

It’s got to be one or the other. You can’t serve others while seeking your own glory and at the same time seek to glorify Jesus. You need to make a choice.

And you know the right choice. We need to ignore and actively reject any thoughts of our own importance and we need to point the spotlight on Christ and his worthiness of glory and praise and worship.

when we might have been burdensome

Another indication that your service to others is pleasing to God is that it’s accompanied by a denial of your own supposed rights.

[Some Greek manuscripts and Bible versions put the rest of verse 6 into verse 7…]

So here’s the interesting thing. In some ways, Paul and Silas were due some amount of glory or honor by these Thessalonians and those others that Paul mentioned.

Paul says that he and Silas – to mechanically translate the text – “were able to be in heaviness”.

What does that mean?

This word burdensome in our text is the word from which we get the English terms “barometer” and “bariatric”. It has to do with the weight of something.

•           Your work throughout the day is a burden to you. It can feel like a heavy weight upon you (Matthew 20:12).

•           Trying to keep the Old Testament rules was a heavy burden that weighed people down (Acts 15:28). It was an obligation that everyone should be able to bear – if we were sinless. But since we’re all sinners, it’s impossible to carry.

And Paul could have been this way with the Thessalonians. He would have been in his right place to make certain demands of the Thessalonians that they might have tended to view as a weight or a burden.

Paul and Silas could have legitimately sought this kind of “glory” or honor from the believers in Thessalonica.

Why’s that? What would have made it right for Paul and Silas to receive a certain level of honor from the Thessalonians?

as the apostles of Christ

It’s this reality that Paul and Silas were apostles of Christ.

And there seems to be two ways in which this word “apostle” is used in the New Testament.

The Nature of Apostles: The Twelve

First, there were the 12 apostles.

•           Jesus called them originally and chose 12 of them. And that number included Judas Iscariot (Matthew 10:2; Luke 6:13). He was an apostle.

•           Then after he betrayed Jesus and subsequently killed himself, the 11 thought it was important to maintain that number of 12. And so, they prayed to God for direction in choosing a replacement. And they chose a man named Matthias to be the 12th apostle, replacing Judas (Acts 1:26).

•           These men served as witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection (Acts 4:33). They were given the ability to perform miracles that would testify to the veracity of that witness (Acts 2:43; 5:12).

•           Interestingly, near the very end of the Bible in Revelation 21:14 we’re told that the New Jerusalem will have foundation stones containing the names of the 12 apostles of the Lamb.

So, from the beginning of the New Testament all the way to the end, the reality of that number of 12 apostles seems to be important to God.

The Nature of Apostles: Those Who Are Sent

But then this word “apostle” can also be used to describe simply “one who is sent” – typically by God – to someone or to some place (John 13:16).

•           Barnabas is one such individual who’s pictured as not being one of the 12 (Acts 4:36-37; 9:27) but in another place he’s called an apostle (Acts 14:14).

•           The men who were sent to collect the offering from the Corinthians are described as the apostles of the church (2 Corinthians 8:23). And Paul’s not talking about the 12 who were stationed in Jerusalem. He’s just talking about some men who were sent from various churches to oversee that ministry.

•           A man named Epaphroditus is called the apostle of the church in Philippi (Philippians 2:25).

•           Actually, Jesus himself is called the apostle of our profession or confession of faith (Hebrews 3:1). He was sent to us from God.

•           And of course, Silas is implied here as being an apostle in our text when Paul says that he and Silas could have demanded some honor from the Thessalonians – because they (not just Paul) were apostles of Christ.

•           And then there’s Paul himself.

•           He wasn’t one of the twelve – but he’s described by Luke as an apostle (Acts 14:14).

•           Paul refers to himself as an apostle in 9 of his letters (Romans 1:1; 1 Corinthians 1:1; 2 Corinthians 1:1; Galatians 1:1; Ephesians 1:1; Colossians 1:1; 1 Timothy 1:1; 2 Timothy 1:1; Titus 1:1; ).

•           He was an apostle of the Gentiles – one who was specially sent to the non-Jews to give them the gospel (Romans 11:13).

•           In fact, in 1 Corinthians 15:7-9 Paul seems to indicate that he was of the same rank and authority and level of gifting as the 12 … and yet he recognizes that he was not of the 12.

•           He was like one “born out of due time” in terms of his apostleship – which is a term used of premature births. In other words, his apostleship was quite unusual and unexpected. It didn’t quite fit the mold.

•           And yet, Paul was indeed an apostle – which was evident by him being given the ability to perform the signs of an apostle among those to whom he ministered (2 Corinthians 12:12).

So, there were the 12 apostles who mostly seem to have remained in Jerusalem after Christ’s ascension. But there were also other men who were sent by God with the message of the gospel.

In fact, there were actually false apostles (2 Corinthians 11:5,13; 12:11). And the Ephesian church was commended for testing them and finding them to be such (Revelation 2:2). And I don’t think the test was as simple as seeing whether they were one of the 12. And that’s because we see in the New Testament that there were the 12 – but there were more as well who could be labeled as apostles. So, the early church needed to test them.

So, that’s the nature of apostles.

The Rights of Apostles

But why did Paul say that as apostles, he and Silas would have been justified in demanding some honor from the Thessalonians? What kind of honor did Paul have in mind?

First of all, we need to remember that being an apostle was a high calling. The importance of this gift in the early church was great.

•           The gift of apostle is the first spiritual gift mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12:28.

•           Paul calls the apostles the foundation of the church – with Jesus being the corner stone (Ephesians 2:20).

•           And that’s because the apostles were called to make known the previously-hidden reality of Christ (Ephesians 3:5).

•           The list of gifts that the risen and ascended Christ gave to his church begins with this gift of apostles (Ephesians 4:11).

So, apostles were preeminent in the early church and deserved the honor that came with that position.

And from that position of such a high calling, apostles would have been entitled by God to certain provisions from those to whom they ministered. Paul outlines this in 1 Corinthians 9.

•           Apostles had a right to financial support from those to whom they ministered.

•           And related to that, they also had a right not to work a full-time job in addition to their spiritual ministry.

So, what Paul is saying here in 1 Thessalonians 2:6 is that he and Silas could have even demanded that the Thessalonians do right and pay their way and provide the financial support that they needed. This might even indicate that the Thessalonians had not provided for Paul and Silas in this way.

Voluntary Denial of Your Rights #4 Indication of God-Pleasing Spiritual Service to Others

The point is that as we seek to serve others in spiritual ways, if our heart is to please God, then sometimes it’s going to mean that you don’t make full use of your rights.

For example, there are men who are called to be pastors. But the church to which they’re called can’t afford to financially support them fully. In some cases, these men work a second job. In certain ways this isn’t ideal. But neither is it a violation of Paul’s very own example here.

What do you feel like you’re entitled to? What are your rights?

Three meals a day? A good night’s sleep? A stress-free life? Being spoken to courteously and respectfully? Being loved by everyone?

But would you voluntarily lay down those rights if you were convinced that by doing so, you would be able to more effectively minister to others on a spiritual level?

Verse 7

1 Thessalonians 2:7 AV 1873

7 But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children:

Well, that leads us to our next indication of spiritual service to others that’s also pleasing to God. And it has to do with our gentleness and care toward those to whom we’re ministering.

So – to hearken back to verse 6 – did Paul and Silas demand financial compensation from the believers in Thessalonica?

But

No, they didn’t.

We see this note of contrast here. Paul and Silas could have made demands on those people. But they didn’t.

we were gentle among you

Instead, Paul and Silas were gentle among the Thessalonians. They weren’t demanding their rights. They were – instead – gentle.

This gentleness is the attitude that should characterize every minister of the gospel (2 Timothy 2:24).

Our current social media culture – even among people whose views we would tend to share – loves brash, bold, in-your-face confrontations. We love put-downs and insults – as long as they serve our cause and give our side the upper hand. There’s an abundance of video clips claiming that the arguments contained therein will help you “own” the people on the other side of the argument. Or that in this particular video, the other side of the debate is “completely destroyed”!

And I’m all for thoughtful debate and advancing truth – and there is some of that still happening these days. But the manner in which we engage people on this level is commanded by Paul to be characterized as “gentle”. “The servant of the Lord must not strive – but be gentle unto all men.”

Gentleness might not win debates. It might not win elections. And that really doesn’t matter. Who’s ultimately in charge of who sits on the throne, so-to-speak? It’s God’s business. Plus, Christ’s church has not been called to go into all the world and “win debates/elections.” We’re called to preach the gospel to every creature.

Your gentleness might be mistaken for weakness from the other side. We just need to let them think what they want to think. You follow and obey Christ. And he’ll take care of everything else.

Paul and Silas didn’t demand their rights. They were instead gentle to those believers in Thessalonica.

But what did that look like? Certainly their gentleness was characterized as not demanding money from these new believers. But is there some sort of illustration that would help drive-home the point?

even as a nurse cherisheth her children: 

Here it is. Paul and Silas were like how a nursing mother cares for her infant.

How’s that for gentle? There’s a closeness pictured here. A slowness and intentionality about things. There’s an extreme care exercised toward the baby. The mother is keenly concerned for any little hiccup or discomfort that she can notice in her child. There’s a self-giving pictured in this illustration – self-sacrifice for the good of another.

And to tie this back to our text – what nursing mother is going to demand payment from her infant child? It doesn’t happen that way. And even 40 years after that mother cared for that child in that way, she’s still not demanding payment. It was a labor of selfless love.

And if the picture of the nursing mother doesn’t quite connect with you, then we can note that this word “cherish” here is used in the context of a husband’s relationship to his wife in Ephesians 5:29 to speak of how you care for your own body. No one hates his own flesh but instead he cherishes it. You care for it.

It’s not like anyone can truly have a complete disinterest in what happens to his body. If a fist is flying at your face, your natural tendency is going to be to duck or move or whatever. Because you care about your face and you care about the potential pain that fist is going to cause your body.

And so, this is how Paul and Silas were to the Thessalonian believers. They were careful with them. They were willing to sacrifice for them. They were gentle.

Careful Gentleness #5 Indication of God-Pleasing Spiritual Service to Others

So, this is one more indication that your service to others pleases God. As you minister to them spiritually, your approach is characterized by gentleness. You’re not pushy. You’re not harsh. You’re not impatient. You don’t give up when things get hard.

Even when the one whom you’re serving does the spiritual equivalent of spitting-up … you continue your gentle approach with that one.

Verse 8

1 Thessalonians 2:8 AV 1873

8 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.

Now, this gentleness was fueled by Paul and Silas’ inward feelings toward these new believers.

so being affectionately desirous of you

Just like a nursing mother would desire to be with her baby, so too Paul and Silas desired to be with the Thessalonians.

Paul and Silas weren’t just “punching the clock” as they ministered to these people. They had a great desire to see them and be with them and serve them for Christ’s sake.

Affection & Longing #6 Indication of God-Pleasing Spiritual Service to Others

And all I want to point out here is that if you’re saying that you’re ministering to someone else on a spiritual level – and yet, you don’t actually want to be with that person or want to see him – then you might need to examine your heart and figure out why.

The apostolic model is far from just leaving a tract and running away. Leaving tracts is a good practice – but obviously you’re desiring a lot more than that for your spiritual service to others. Ideally, you get to the point where your hearts are even knit together with the person that you’re serving.

… And here’s the last indication of a spiritual service that is pleasing to God.

we were willing to have imparted unto you

This affectionate desire led Paul and Silas to be willing to give anything to these believers.

And it wasn’t a matter of mechanical duty. Rather, Paul and Silas were pleased to do this. That’s the meaning of that word “willing”. It’s the kind of attitude that God the Father had toward God the Son – Jesus Christ. He was well-pleased with him.

And so, Paul and Silas were pleased to give two things to the Thessalonians.

not the gospel of God only

First they were pleased to give the gospel of God to the Thessalonians.

But that wasn’t all they were pleased to give to these believers.

but also our own souls

Paul and Silas were also pleased to give even their own souls to them.

The word soul is translated elsewhere in our KJV as life. Paul and Silas were pleased to give their lives for the Thessalonian believers. Could you say that about anyone in your life?

It’s remarkable. Because the truth – as Paul states it in Romans 5:6-7 is that it’s a rare thing for someone to die for a righteous person. Perhaps someone would dare to die for a good person. But Christ died for the ungodly.

And now that Christ had indeed died for these Thessalonians – his servants Paul and Silas were willing to risk and lay down their lives for these believers.

In 1 John 3:16 we’re told that we know love by the fact that Jesus laid down his life for us. And that calls us to lay down our lives for our fellow-believers.

And this was the heart of Paul and Silas toward these believers.

So, Paul and Silas were happy to give the gospel – and even their own lives – to them.

because ye were dear unto us

And what caused Paul and Silas to have this mindset toward the Thessalonians was that those believers had become dear to them.

This is the adjectival form of the word “love”. So, they’re “loved ones”.

In the New Testament gospels, this word exclusively refers to what Jesus is to God the Father. God the Father loves Jesus. He is dear or beloved to the Father.

In Romans 16 which consists of numerous greetings to believers in Rome, Paul references 4 individuals as dear or beloved.

For all of the problems that existed in the Corinthian church, Paul was able to genuinely refer to them as beloved 4 times in 1 Corinthians and 2 times in 2 Corinthians.

And this is how Paul and Silas felt toward the Thessalonians.

Love-Fueled Sacrificial Sharing #7 Indication of God-Pleasing Spiritual Service to Others

And so, that’s the last indication of a spiritual service to others that pleases God. You’re willing to share – even when it’ll cost you something. And this sharing is fueled by love.

Conclusion

So, do you see any of these indications in your life that you’re serving others spiritually in a way that pleases God?

•           Is your speech genuine and honest as you attempt to serve others?

•           Do you totally lack covetousness of any kind in your heart as a motivation for this service?

•           Are you consciously rejecting any desires toward self-aggrandizement as you serve?

•           Are you in the practice of voluntarily denying the full use of your rights in order to serve better?

•           Is your approach to serving marked by a careful gentleness?

•           Do you possess and exhibit affection and even longing for the ones whom you serve?

•           And are you engaged in a sacrificial sharing that’s fueled by genuine love?

Do you find some or all of these realities at work in you as you reach out to others and try to serve them for God’s sake?

If so, rejoice! That’s God working in you his good pleasure – to help you serve others in a way that ultimately pleases him.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.