“For we speak as messengers approved by God to be entrusted with the Good News. Our purpose is to please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of our hearts.” 1 Thessalonians 2:5
Gossip. It can be the root of many problems. Have you ever found yourself completely changing your view on a person based on what someone told you? I have definitely been there and done that. No, I’m not proud of it; however, I am willing to confess to you all that I have been on both the receiving and giving end of this and neither side ends well.
Paul was experiencing first hand what it felt like to be on the receiving end of some extreme slander by his own people- the Jews. Not only was he rejected by them but they were also on a manhunt to destroy his ministry. They were spreading lies, throwing people in jail, and running him right out of the city. So in the first 6 verses of this chapter, Paul is defending himself to the Thessalonians that have newly come to the faith. He is encouraging them to not believe what any of these men were saying.
We know the type of lies they were trying to spread by the way Paul defends himself in the first few verses of chapter 2. Here is my paraphrased outline of what he is saying:
Verse 1: Our visit is not considered a failure, even though we had to leave earlier than we expected.
Verse 2-3: We just came from a brutal beating in Phillipi because of our preaching, yet by the grace of God, we still preached to you the same gospel that those in Phillipi heard. Clearly, our motives are not impure.
Verse 4: I hear what those men are saying, but I didn’t come to please men. I came to fulfill my calling of spreading the Good News. God is the only one who can truly examine hearts (Psalm 139:23, Jeremiah 17:10, 1 Samuel 16:7b).
Verse 5-6: How can you say I preached for flattery? I am preaching boldly that you are sinners and need to repent. Telling people they are in the wrong is not something that people typically love to hear.
Paul began with, “…our visit was not a failure.” How could he write such bold statement? He was rejected by the Jews, his name was getting dragged through the dirt, and he was forced to leave the city that he loved and longed to pastor (Acts 17:1-15). All the evidence would lead us to conclude his trip was a failure.
But God saw it as a slam dunk, and Paul recognized that. People were saved, a church was planted, and God’s word was sounding forth in that city. Spoiler alert: Paul was never the end all. He was merely a vessel in God’s masterful plan to convert the most influential city at the time in Macedonia (now modern day Greece) .
Let Paul’s words encourage you this week. Maybe you’ve been hurt by someone that you least expected; maybe there is someone at work trying to make you look bad and twist your intentions; or maybe things are just not going the way you expected even though you are following the Lord, like Paul. Remember, our purpose is to please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of our hearts (verse 5). Keep being obedient to Him because walking in the Lord’s will and fulfilling your purpose on this earth is a major success in Heaven.
For further study, read about Paul’s journey in Thessalonica in Acts 17.