5 December 20171 Thessalonians 2:1-8
“…nor did we seek praise from mortals, whether from you or from others, though we might have made demands as apostles of Christ.” (vv. 6-7)
Psalm: Psalm 132
Paul had many critics and in this section of the letter he refers to these criticisms. His mention of the rough time he had in Philippi (verse 2) had caused his enemies to think of him as a criminal. The other accusations were of delusion, impurity, seeking to delude others, or to please the people rather than to please God (verses 3-4), but the accusation (verse 5) that he was preaching the gospel for what he could get out of it for himself was particularly hurtful. He refutes this strongly (verses 6-8) by pointing out the loving care that was at the heart of his dealings with people; that compassion was inspired by the gospel he preached.
Those who answer the call to preach the gospel often find themselves accused of having ulterior motives. Paul appears to have been strong enough to defend himself against these accusations, but they had damaged his reputation in certain areas and led to persecution. He knows he will have the support of the Thessalonian Christians. That caring support is needed for all who are preaching the gospel today. They need our prayers.
God, you have called many, through Jesus,
to be your disciples and to be sent out among your people
with a message of hope and love, forgiveness and reconciliation.
But it is not always easy to be confident about speaking out your good news. Sometimes it is because there is a fear that people will be hostile. Sometimes it is because there is a suspicion that people are indifferent to what needs to be said. Sometimes it is because there is a danger of being challenged. Sometimes it is because the message has been rejected in the past. Sometimes it is because there is always the possibility of being accused of having false motives for the work.
Teach us all the gentle way of approaching the subject of faith.
Show us how to be sensible and sensitive in our approach
and careful with the words we speak.
Remind us that actions are often more important than words
and that a gesture of understanding, or a helping hand, or a shoulder to cry on
may be just the thing that is needed to show compassion and care.
Taking your message to people who do not know that they need to hear it is a very difficult thing to do.
Bless and guide us all as we try to follow your calling
to take your love to your people.
- What do you think about the usefulness of preaching in today's world?
- Have you ever had your motives for being a Christian challenged? If so, how did you respond?