What God-Directed Ministry Looks Like - I Thess 2:1-3
The world is overrun with false prophets, preachers inspired by erroneous spirits, teachers spreading dangerous doctrines and evangelists who are led by their own self-gratifying thoughts and motives. No one is immune to the temptation of getting off course and losing sight of the godly goal.
The devil tempted Jesus (Matthew 4:1-11) with a ploy designed to entice Him away from the plan of the Father. The enemy suggested that Jesus turn aside from the path and plan of God. He urged Jesus to circumvent the process and choose a way that seemed easier and quicker. The devil's plot was hinged on goading Jesus into satisfying His own needs and desires immediately instead of obeying, trusting and waiting for His Father to answer and supply. The plan of God is always supported by humility. The enemy's plan is paraded on a pompous platter of pride.
The devil doesn't mind people preaching. He just doesn't want them saying anything that will set people free. He is not against prophets and teachers. He just doesn't want them delivering the whole Truth of God. The devil isn't even bothered by an evangelist that can swell the crowd and the offering. He just doesn't want them operating in the yoke-destroying, burden-removing power of God.
As previously mentioned, it's not hard to get off track. One of the ways of self-examination is to compare what we are doing with examples illustrated in the Bible.
I Thessalonians 2:1-12 shares a thorough description of what God-directed ministry looks like.
Verse 1 - For yourselves, brethren, know our entrance in unto you, that it was not in vain:
When God has sanctioned a ministry and He is directing it, there will be a notable awareness of the ministry. Its impact and effectiveness are certain. The ministry will be making a positive difference in the lives of those to whom it was sent. Healthy, godly fruit will be added and/or multiplied to the account of that ministry.
Verse 2 - But even after that we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippt, we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention. (See Acts 16:16-40)
The ministry on course for the Lord will be unjustly challenged and attacked. The devil wants to shut you up, shut you down and shut you out. But those who know they are anointed and appointed by God refused to be led astray or silenced. Ministers (or servants) of God are on assignment. You know your life belongs to the One who gave it. So He has the right and the authority to navigate the life He gave you for His own glory and pleasure.
Verse 3 = For our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile:
Verse 3 identifies three of the devil's devices that trip up people. The first characteristic mentioned is deceit. The minister of God does not deal in deception of any sort. Every motive must be pure. Every truth must be valid. Every message must be sanitized by the Holy Spirit. As an ambassador for God those who minister or serve, do so on His behalf. It is a gross misrepresentation to speak or behave in any manner that is inconsistent with the Lord's character and Spirit.
The three forms of ungodliness exposed in verse 3 all have to do with a person's inner condition.
1. Deceit is deception, to defraud, to intentionally stray from the truth.
2. Uncleanness is fleshly corruption. It refers to and caters to the dark passions of the flesh.
3. Guile is lying craftiness. It is another form of deception but with a wiley twist of underhandedness and cunning.
In contrast to this, Paul's exhortation is marked by truth and piety. His manner of ministry suggests humility and purity. In summary, these are the marks of a God-directed ministry as identified in this section of the passage:
1. Impactful and positively effective
2. Produces good fruit
3. Unjustly challenged and attacked
4. Truth is spoken and lived in love
5. Instructs toward putting to death the unrighteous passions of the flesh and cultivating the purity of the spirit
6. Honesty in words, actions and motives
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