Sep. 13, 2017

What God-Directed Ministry Looks Like - I Thess 2:4-5

I Thessalonians 2:4a But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel...

Paul understood that his placement in ministry was ordained and permitted by God. Some religious talkers seem to have made the decision to place themselves in ministry. Perhaps because people complimented them on being good orators. Or maybe they saw ministry as an easy way to produce income without being obligated to a 9 to 5 situation of employment. Others may have seen ministry as a way to be 'self-employed' so they could have all the free time they please.

In contrast, Paul clearly recognized that it was by God's grace that he was called to and blessed to serve in ministry. He also acknowledged that this calling married him to a sobering responsibility. He comprehended the importance associated with carrying and sowing the Word of God. To be entrusted with the cherished Word of God was not to be taken lightly.

As mentioned in the previous post, much of ministry is seen, not heard. People are more inclined to hear and believe what is said if the speaker's actions are consistent with their spoken message. Paul understood this. Consistency is vital to God-directed ministry.

I Thessalonians 2:4b...even so we speak...

This phrase is additional support for the importance of God-inspired consistency. Paul didn't choose his own words. He was led by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will never contradict Himself. Error occurs when a minister (servant) stops speaking and behaving according to the constraints of the will of God. The Lord knows what He wants said and He knows what behaviors are in harmony with His message.

At the very least, inconsistencies are distracting and confusing to the observers. At worst, misdeeds in ministry cause people to be hurt and consider God untrustworthy. Ministers are (or should be) ambassador-servants. Ambassador-servants represent the One who sent them. All that they say and do, should reflect the Lord's Spirit and character.

I Thessalonians 2:4c...not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts.

It is easy to share a feel-good message that makes everybody happy. But it is not so easy to deliver a word of correction or rebuke. All of God's Word is good. But it doesn't always feel good to hear it. The Word of God can be like some medicine: the taste is unpleasant but the properties in it produce healing. It is better to suffer a little and get well than it is to avoid the cure and die. In the natural, so many folks have left this life prematurely because they ignored the symptoms of a treatable condition. Something as minute as a diseased tooth can lead to death if left untreated. The decay from that one tooth can poison the entire body.

Ministers who are God-directed seek to speak as the Lord desires. There is One they desire to please. If He is pleased everything else will work out eventually. If people are always pleased with what the minister says, I wonder who authored the message? We see in the Bible that Jesus said some things that were not easy to receive. But He is always right. The Lord knows how to speak a Word that will directly address whatever is happening in the lives, hearts and minds of His people. No responsible parent gives their children candy all the time.

I Thessalonians 2:5

For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloke of covetousness; God is witness:

Paul emphasizes again his avoidance of the pitfalls he spoke of in verse 3 of this same chapter. In verse 3 he said his exhortation was not of deceit (deception with the intent to deceive or mislead). His ministry did not involve uncleanness which refers to fleshly corruption. He did not operate in guile or craftiness with words or underhanded dealings. In verse 5 Paul reiterates the purity of his ministry. To add credence to his statement, he boldly declares that God can attest to the accuracy and honesty of what he has said. There is no one better to vouch for him than the King of Glory!

Thank you for stopping by! More on this topic soon.