1 Thessalonians 2
I am constantly reminded of the need for missionaries to grow in their relational skills. As I have been praying, and seeking the Lord to show me ways to practically teach and challenge them with where they are at and where they need to be, the Lord gave me a very practical example in my own life this past week. As I reflect on my heart last week, and what happened in my relationship with Robin (Yes, even we have spats from time to time 🙂 it showed me that we can be doing all the right things. We can be serving God with all our hearts. Even while we are doing what God wants us to do, we can do it selfishly, not aware of how we are affecting those around us, and ultimately not living out the righteous life God desires.
Some time ago I wrote a blog from the book, “Because He Loves me.” The author shared how God’s imperatives (what God tells us to do) are always based on God’s indicatives (what he indicated or has declared about us). The way we respond to circumstances in our lives should also follow that pattern. Because we know what God has said about us, and all that God has done for us, it should produce a desire to respond in a Godly way. But, unfortunately all too often it doesn’t actually play out that way. Why?
One of the biggest culprits is what Ken Sande describes as “emotional hijacking.” In high stress situations, our emotions can overwhelm our rational thinking. In Proverbs 4:23 Solomon warns us to guard our hearts with all diligence. In Proverbs 23 we see this concept scattered in various ways and in various contexts.
- Proverbs 23:1 When you sit down to eat with a ruler, OBSERVE CAREFULLY what is before you, and put a knife to your throat if you are given to appetite
- Prov 23:3 Do not desire his delicacies…
- Prov 23:4 Do not toil to acquire wealth; be discerning enough to desist
- Prov 23:6 Do not desire the bread of a man who is stingy; do not desire his delicacies
- Prov 23:12 apply your heart to instruction and your ear to words of knowledge
- Prov 23:17 Let not your heart envy sinners, but continue in the fear of the Lord all the day
- Prov 23:19 hear, my son, and be wise, and direct your heart in the way.
I believe Paul’s description of himself in 1 Thess 2 is a great example of someone who lived this out. At the beginning of the chapter Paul describes the context in which he had to minister to bring the gospel to the Thessalonians. He says “But though we had already suffered, and been shamefully treated at Philippi, we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel in the midst of much conflict.” Some how Paul was able to keep his cool, respond graciously, and still be able to share the message God gave him, even with all that chaos going on. How did he do it? Because he guarded his heart.
- He was aware of what God said about him. “Just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak…” (2 Thess 2:2)
- He engaged his own heart, and determined to not be caught up in trying to prove himself, or defend himself. (1 Thess 2:3-6)
- We speak not to please man, but to please God
- We never came with words of flattery, nor with a pretext for greed
- we did not seek glory from people whether you or others, though we could have
- He was aware of what was happening to the Thessalonians and was focused on their needs.
- we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children
- being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel, but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us
After displaying it to them, and in front of them, Paul challenges them to live the same way, and again reminds them of his example. He then affirms them in what he sees in them.
1 Thess 2:10-14
- We exhorted you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory
- You are witnesses, and God, how holy and righteous and blameless was our conduct toward you
- We thank God constantly for this, when you received the word of God, you accepted it, not as our words, but as what it really is, the word of God
- You became imitators of the churches of God in Judea. You suffered the same things as they did
Declarations / Prayer
- Today I acknowledge that I need to Guard my heart and apply my heart to God’s instruction. I need to not resist the desire for self, be discerning and direct my heart to follow after God like Paul did.
- I want to have compassion and love for people so much that I am willing to share, not only the gospel, but myself with them.
- Because I am approved, I can walk worthy, live holy, righteous and blameless before the people I serve.
- I pray they will accept what we share as not our words, but as the word of God.