Summary: in these verses, Paul looks at ways we can either be a blessing or a burden in our churches. The challange is to see which characteristics we possess and which we need to change.
HOW TO BE A BLESSING INSTEAD OF A BURDEN
1 Thessalonians 2:6-12 We were not looking for praise from men, not from you or anyone else. As apostles of Christ we could have been a burden to you, 7 but we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children. 8 We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us. 9 Surely you remember, brothers, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you. 10 You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed. 11 For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, 12 encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.
I. HOW TO BE A BURDEN IN THE CHURCH
A. LOOK FOR PEOPLE TO PRAISE YOU verse 6
1. Everybody enjoys being encouraged for a good job
2. Nothing wrong with encouragement
a) God encouraged people – Joshua for example
Joshua 1:5 No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.
Joshua 3:7 And the LORD said to Joshua, "Today I will begin to exalt you in the eyes of all Israel, so they may know that I am with you as I was with Moses.
3. We become a burden when we begin to seek out encouragement rather than letting encouragement come to us.
a) Our activities and focus changes to elicit praise
b) We begin to do things for the response of others rather than the response of God
c) Cannot serve two masters and cannot seek the to please both
Matthew 6:24 "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.
Galatians 1:10 Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.
Joshua 24:15 But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD."
WHEN GET CAUGHT UP WITH SEEKING THE PRAISE OF PEOPLE WE BECOME A BURDEN BECAUSE WE ARE NOT SEEKING TO DO WHAT GOD DESIRES FIRST.
B. GET CAUGHT UP IN YOUR POSITION – verse 6
1. Sometimes it seems as though position is everything
2. How many times have you heard that it is not what you know but who you know
3. Paul says he could have used his position to be a burden on the church but he did not
4. We need to be careful that we do not use our position in the church as a burden on someone else in the church
a) We can be overly critical of someone in our Sunday School Class
b) We can be unconsciously prejudice in our practices – this is exactly the reason why I do not want to pick the first table up for fellowship dinner and why I like to eat last!
WHEN WE THINK WE DESERVE BETTER ANYTHING BECAUSE OF OUR POSITION WE BECOME A BURDEN
C. SERVE LESS AND NEED MORE – verse 9
1. Paul says that he served day and night
2. Paul wanted to be as little burden as possible and in order to do that he needed to do more
a) Paul toiled – means to wear oneself out in battle
b) Paul had hardship – means to labor with effort
3. Paul’s purpose in doing what he did and how he did it was to be less of a burden while doing God’s will
Maybe this is where we get the saying, “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop.”
More importantly, Pauls’ activity was a result of his belief in God’s all sustaining power, comfort, and protection.
Philippians 4:11-13 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength.