Last week we looked at preaching the Gospel. We saw the how, who, and the when and where of preaching the Gospel. The power is in the message, not the messenger. Paul told Timothy in 1 Tim. 4:23 to, “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season.” We covered the who, what, why, when, where and how of preaching the Gospel, this morning we’ll look at the Walking the Walk.
Grab your copy of God’s Word and look at 1 Thes. 2:7-16.
The first thing I want to look at is Paul as a mother. It’s kind of strange that the beefy and burly Apostle would describe himself as a mother. Look at v. 7. He said he proved to be gentle. He didn’t just say he was gentle, he proved he was gentle among the people. The Thessalonians were in direct contact with Paul. They observed him, they interacted with Paul. Paul didn’t just give instructions; he demonstrated his love and care. V. 5-6, says, “We never came with flattering speech, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed – God is witness – nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others, even though as apostles of Christ we might have asserted our authority.” There was no flattering speech. No pretext for greed. They didn’t seek the glory of men. As Apostles they could have asserted authority. They didn’t do any of that, but they proved to be gentle. They were as gentle as a nursing mother who tenderly cares for her children. Think about the tender care of a nursing mom.
V. 8 says, “Having so fond an affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us.” Paul had no desire to be ministered to, but he wanted to minister to them. Paul was big time in the church. Remember he had a vision of a Macedonian man asking him to go there. Paul’s companions didn’t question Paul on the vision, they simply went because Paul said so. Paul didn’t want to sit around and have people serve him, he wanted to serve them. They served the people and imparted their lives to the Thessalonians. Too often in the church, we want people to receive the Gospel, but we’re not willing to invest the time required for discipleship. That’s not the way it was for Paul, Silvanus, Timothy, and Luke.
Next, we’ll look at Paul as a father. Look at vs. 9-12. In these few verses there are two prevailing themes. The first is these missionaries worked hard. There was no idle time. They labored so they could provide for themselves and not be a burden to the church. We know Paul was a tent maker, and Luke was a doctor, but we don’t about Timothy and Silvanus. They worked night and day. If they got tired, they didn’t mention it. In between working day and night, they preached the Gospel. They preached the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. It is the Gospel changes people. It is the power of the Holy Spirit that changes people. It is spending time with people walking side by side.
The second theme in this passage is that Paul was like a father to them. He encouraged, implored, and exhorted the people just like a father would to for his child. The Thessalonians knew that Paul and his companions were genuine. The people understood what Paul and the others were doing. They understood because they were, “witnesses and so was God, of how devoutly and uprightly and blamelessly” Paul, Silvanus, Timothy, and Luke acted properly. They did this so the Thessalonians, “Would walk in a manner worthy” of God. Walk comes from the word that means to make one’s way, progress; to make due use of opportunities.
So we are to walk in a way that makes progress. What is progress? Acts 26:18 says to, “Open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.” Walking in a manner means that you turn from dark to light, you turn from idols to serve a living and true God; that you no longer serve yourself, but you serve God. Romans 6:22 says, “But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life.”
We’ve seen Paul as a mother and father, now look at Paul as a herald. As we have seen, the Gospel message was of greatest importance for Paul. The Thessalonians did what every preacher wants for his sheep. Read v. 13. They didn’t just listen to the Word and go home. They received the Word that Paul preached and accepted it as the Word of God. Some reject the preaching of God’s Word today because it’s too painful to accept. Just because you don’t like something from Scripture doesn’t make it untrue.
They accepted the Word of God and it changed them. The Word changed them because they, “Became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea, for you also endured the same sufferings at the hands of your own countrymen, even as they did from the Jews.” By application, C4 should imitator the churches that are in Judea. Think about the mega-churches. Willow Creek and Saddleback. Vineyard and Hillsong. Instead of modeling the biblical church, we have all kind of resources, seminars, and conferences telling us how to be like them. That’s not necessarily bad, but our model is found in Acts 2. There are lots of ways to do things and we can learn from other churches, but let’s get back to the biblical model.
More proof of their genuine faith is that the Word changed them and they suffered the same persecution that Paul and the others suffered. What suffering is Paul talking about? Look at vs. 15-16. Back in Acts 17 and 18, Luke makes it clear that is was the Jews who pursued Paul from Thessalonica to Berea to Athens then to Corinth. In fact, Paul accuses the Jews of five things:
- They killed the Lord.
- They killed the prophets.
- They drove Paul and the others out.
- They displease God.
- They are hostile to all men.
Their hostility to all men is why they hindered the missionaries from speaking to the Gentiles so they could be saved. Remember most of the people in Thessalonica were Gentiles. As a result of this antagonism to the Thessalonians, v. 16 says, “With the result that they always fill up the measure of their sins. But wrath has come upon them to the utmost.”
It’s hard to keep going when we are attacked, but it’s pretty rare that we are attacked in the manner Paul was. You should find comfort in the fact that, tells us that “All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” (2 Tim 3:12)
Will you walk the walk?