1 Thessalonians 2.1-6
Do you remember when you strongly believed in something but hesitated to speak about or act on it because of opposition? Maybe it was in a college classroom and your teacher made a comment that you raised your hand to ask for clarification. Then, you were shut down for questioning his viewpoint. Others looked at you and mocked silently. Your convictions shrank under the pressure of hostile looks, attitudes and vitriol.
At other times you remember admiring someone who acted courageously for their beliefs. They withstood those who opposed them and kept championing their views. You admired them but also felt the pressure of the ugly onslaught against them.
Most of us automatically follow the self-imposed behavior modifying reaction. When we get hurt doing or saying something we don’t repeat doing or saying that thing. Naturally we do not like pain and avoid what brings pain.
Paul experienced horrible opposition when he preached the gospel in Philippi. What torment he experienced at the hands of those who hurt him hoping that pain would make him stop may never be fully understood by us so many centuries later. He was not a whiner yet he still called the mistreatment suffering.
Nevertheless, he reminded the Thessalonian believers what they all remembered. They knew for certain that in the horrific chaos of the Apostle’s ministry there was a good and lasting result. This aftermath was not imagined or hearsay, it was real and the Thessalonians knew it.
While many would recant after facing horrific treatment for expressing their faith, Paul and his team reacted in just the opposite manner. They became more determined to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ. Make no mistake about the circumstances of the experience; it was torture.
What Paul’s enemies inflicted on him was not merely an inconvenience. Nor did the missionary team simply get the cold shoulder. They were abused. Each of them suffered. Yet, they found courage to speak louder.
Their exemplary faith was fueled with the confidence that their motives were pure. They were not charlatans. The source for their desire as proclaimers of the Gospel was without any guile.
These proclaimers acted according to God’s approval of them. He alone was their sole audience. God was the only one that they wanted to please.
Comparing God’s approval to man, these courageous missionaries knew that He could see their hearts. The common motives of men who are spurred on with financial riches or popular appeal did not pollute Paul’s life. He confidently called on God as his witness. Human opinion or popularity did not have any place in his life or ministry.
Fame is an ugly motive in life. Gaining a name among people, while selfishly accruing position or influence, is totally incompatible for a godly life. The rewards of this direction may or may not succeed. If it does it only lasts for a lifetime. All that is gained in this world is left in this world.
Never let fear dissuade you from living a life of courageous obedience. Faith will lead the way through any hazard thrown against you by men. Live a righteous life; do what is right in God’s eyes and take whatever the world throws at you.
God will give you endurance, fortitude and strength. Joy will be yours. The Word of God makes that promise boldly.