1 Thessalonians 2:1-12
Sincerity of Heart in a Godly Minister
Now Paul begins a brief narrative reminding the Thessalonian believers of the way Paul and his companions conducted themselves while they were with them. We may assume that since Paul’s departure, both Jews and Gentiles were slandering him before the believers calling him a “fly by night” charlatan who came to swindle them with flattering words for the purpose of extorting money from them. Why else would he have left them so soon after arriving? Well, he left because he was run off; the Thessalonians knew this (Acts 17:1-9). But the passage does us the favor of informing us how ministers are to behave towards their charges when handling the gospel. So let us turn our thoughts towards this.
They had arrived in Thessalonica from Philippi where they had been “shamefully treated” with false accusations, beatings, and imprisonment (Acts 16:11-40). One might think they would have arrived with their tails between their legs and licking their wounds. No. They came to Thessalonica intent on preaching the same message of saving grace which they were beaten for in Philippi. And this is a sign of their integrity: A charlatan would change his message based upon its reception, but not an apostle of Jesus Christ. The gospel always remains gospel, and it is the gospel with which the preacher has been entrusted and which he must always preach—it is not for him to change based upon its reception of rejection. There will be times of harvest and times where there will be no harvest; he is not held accountable for that. The preacher is held accountable for his fidelity to preaching the message in all its fullness and pristine purity.
Then there is the preacher’s purpose for preaching. The proclamation of the gospel can never be a pretext for greed, a disease with which some men have ever plagued the Church. It can never be a means of winning glory, flattery, or fame. The Church will always be blessed with men who are gifted speakers. Wonderful! Let them be noble as well.
Then there is the preacher’s manner with people: Gentle, like a nursing mother caring for her children. A preacher must call out sin, but he mustn’t be contemptuous about it. He must be patient with people. The Spirit works in people in manifold ways, and we are all slow to hear, dull of mind, and heavy of heart. And while he exhorts them to “walk in a manner worthy of God,” he must do the same, showing diligence in all his labor, walking before them in holiness, righteousness, and blamelessness before his God.