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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder

PLEASE NOT MEN, BUT GOD

1 Thess 2:1-4 For yourselves, brethren, know our entrance in unto you, that it was not in vain: but even after that we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi, we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention. For our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile: but as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts.

It was clearly apparent to the Christians of Thessalonica, that the gospel message of Jesus Christ, brought to them by Paul and his fellow laborers, was spiritually successful. There was evidence to prove that it was not in vain,because there was then planted a church of Christ in that city. Although the congregation was relatively young in years, it was flourishing where none had previously existed prior to Paul's visit to them, and their receptiveness to the gospel of salvation, through Jesus Christ, that Paul had preached unto them.

Reading the account of his second missionary journey, we find in Acts 16:11- 23, the record of Paul's visit to Philippi. It was there that Lydia and her household heard Paul's gospel message, believed it, received Jesus Christ as their Savior, and were baptized into His body for the remission of their sins. It was there that Paul commanded the evil spirits, in the name of Jesus, to come out of a certain damsel, which had been demon possessed. It was also there that, immediately after this miracle, the magisterial rulers of Philippi condemned Paul and Silas, had them beaten, and cast into prison for "troubling the city." No doubt Paul was referring to this incident when he wrote to the Thessalonian Christians, telling them that he and his companions were shamefully entreated ...at Philippi.

However, they were not deterred by this persecution, saying that they were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention (or opposition). With full knowledge that he was preaching nothing but the true gospel of eternal salvation, Paul spoke to the Thessalonians with a boldness that every Christian should emulate in their spiritual lives. Children of God are never to be anxious, or discouraged, or to be fearful of teaching the cause, for which our Savior died, regardless of the ridicule, criticism, or opposition of others. If such persecution keeps us from doing so, the next opportunity to reach a soul, that is lost in sin, would be in vain. Such was the case with Paul at Philippi, but instead of giving up teaching others the way of salvation through Jesus Christ, he merely went on to a new city, such as Thessalonica.

Paul gives us his example of zeal and determination. His ardent devotion to the cause of Christ; his passion to serve God; his eager enthusiasm to fulfill his mission of bringing the gospel message of salvation to Jews and Gentiles, throughout the known world, never wavered, because of the contentious opposition he faced - opposition that was brought about, and encouraged by Satan and his followers. This, fellow Christians, is Paul's example of zealous dedication and determination that we should follow.

The exhortation, that is to say, the preaching of Paul, and his fellow laborers in Christ, had no ulterior motive other than doing the will of their Heavenly Father, that had sent them for this purpose. The message they delivered to that congregation of God's people, was not of deceit; it was not a lie disguised as the truth. It was not filled with uncleanness; it was holy and pure. It was not cunningly crafted in a guileful manner; their message contained no deception. But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts. Entrusted with God's gospel message of salvation, Paul demonstrated his faithfulness to that trust, by preaching and teaching it to the world, exactly as God commanded.

As Paul was, so should men and women be, upon becoming a child of God, in Christ, are made stewards of His holy will. By his example, Paul tells us to please, not men, but God. Christians are not to be men pleasers, but ...servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart (Eph. 6:6). Paul's Holy Spirit-inspired gospel message of salvation came from God. As Christians, we have also been entrusted with this same spiritual message. We have the same instructions on how it is to be used, as Paul gave to Timothy. We are to commit (or teach it) to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also (2 Tim. 2:2). Each Christian should ask themselves this question: with the gospel message of salvation in my trust, do I now persuade men, or God? Do I seek to please men, (or God) (See Gal. 1:9-10)?