God, we pray we would love others so much that we would be delighted to share with them not only the gospel but our lives as well. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Read 1 Thessalonians 1-2
How should an ambassador of the gospel interact with the people he evangelizes? 1 Thessalonians is a beautiful picture of the apostle Paul and his life with the Thessalonians.
It helps first to understand the context of this letter by reading Acts 16:11–17:9. Acts 16:11–40 explains what happened in Philippi, which is relevant because Paul refers to the events in Philippi at the beginning of 1 Thessalonians 2. Then, Acts 17:1–9 describe Paul’s time with the Thessalonians. As you read, try to determine how Paul may have felt as he left Philippi and went to Thessalonica, as well as how long Paul might have been in Thessalonica.
1 Thessalonians 1–2 is intensely autobiographical, so we learn about Paul’s ministry to the Thessalonians in a number of ways:
- Joys of true ministry (1:1–10)
- Motivations of true ministry (2:1–6a)
- Way of true ministry (2:6b–12)
- Suffering of true ministry (2:13–16)
- Affections of true ministry (2:17–20)
Consider how Paul’s joys are linked to the Thessalonians’ true discipleship. He’s not happy because they’re living comfortable lives or being prosperous. Instead, he gives thanks for them because they show progress as believers and followers of Jesus.
Paul’s ministry in making disciples is marked by a desire to please God and not man. See how this shows itself in how he relates to the Thessalonians and also in how he gives himself to serve them.
Note: Although Paul worked when he lived with the Thessalonians, this doesn’t mean his work provided his full living expenses. From Philippians 4:16, it appears the young Philippian church had already supported him during these first few days of his ministry in Thessalonica.
We see also how Paul’s affections are tethered to the well-being of the Thessalonians. Paul has a very intense love for them, which offers a wonderful model of Christ’s love for His church.
Finally, note how Paul calls both the Thessalonians and God as witnesses to what he has written. Only someone who models transparency in his relationships and has tried to live a blameless life would write this way.
- Don Whitney - Praying the Bible (1 Thessalonians 2)
© Crossway. Used by permission. https://www.crossway.org
1 Thessalonians 2:4-6
4 but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts. 5 For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness. 6 Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others, though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ.
- Paul thanks God for the Thessalonians’ work of faith, labor of love, and steadfastness of hope. How can your prayers become more biblical as you thank God for believers around you?
- Paul states he’s not looking to please men but God who tests his heart. What might ministry that’s driven by a desire to please men look like for you? How would it look if you were looking to please God instead?
- Paul worked day and night in order not to be a burden to others. How might you inconvenience yourself for the sake of others?
- Paul had deep joy from knowing how the Thessalonians were doing spiritually. What would it look like for you to derive joy from the spiritual well-being of others? What can you do to help others grow spiritually and so increase not only their joy but also yours?
Choose one of the following:
- Thank God that He has loved us and chosen us (1 Thessalonians 1:4). He has done this by giving us faith, love, and hope in our Lord Jesus Christ (1:3). We are those who have turned to God and now wait for His Son’s return (1:10). Rejoice!
- Dare to tell someone the gospel in spite of strong opposition (1 Thessalonians 2:2). Pray God will help you. Know you are not doing so to please men but God who tests your heart.
- Encourage someone’s spirit and build them up. If you don’t already intentionally disciple someone, pray about finding someone whom you can invest in and encourage. Share with them not only the gospel of God but your life as well.
Being purposeful and intentional about doing someone spiritual good.
- Use the Physical Health Assessment below to help you evaluate your physical health. Do you have a plan for exercise? Are there any issues that need addressing? Make notes to discuss with your accountability partner. [Being a Disciple]
- Discuss your evaluation of your use of time with your accountability partner. In light of the new time commitments with this topic, do you need to adjust time spent on other entertainment or social media? [Being a Disciple]
- How would you describe your general health?
- Do you exercise regularly? Eat well?