Summary: Christians become role models because they have role models themselves.
Model fOR the Role Model Christians
IN CHAPTER ONE, PAUL PRESENTS TO US how the Thessalonian believers became “Role Model Christians” to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. They ‘blasted forth’ the message of the Gospel not only in the provinces of Macedonia and Achaia but to people everywhere.
They turned from their pagan gods to turn toward YAHWEH, the Lord Jesus Christ. It wasn’t that they were fed up with their idols desperately turning to another as if saying, “well our gods are useless let us give the God of Israel a chance and see what happens.” No. That is not what happened there. They repented of their idolatry and made the decision to turn to God because they understood the truth about the Living God through the gospel of Jesus Christ. The evidence of that is their faithful service to God inspite of the persecution they suffered from their own countrymen (1:6; 2:14). Coupled with their firm belief that Christ will come again (1:9-10).
To say the least that the Thessalonians became “Role Model Christians” is unbiblical if we won’t clarify this fact: for one to become a model, one must have a model to follow, someone to imitate. The reason why the Thessalonian believers became Role Model Christians because they followed the examples set by Paul whose model is Christ Himself. He said, “You became imitators of us and of the Lord.” (1:6a) Therefore, the one who should be given honor is the Lord Jesus because Paul imitated Christ. Likewise, the Thessalonians imitated Paul and the Lord.
“Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” (1Cor 11:1)
“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Eph 5:1,2)
Now here in the second chapter, Paul shows what might have been the qualities that the Thessalonians have adapted from Paul’s during his visit. They watch Paul closely as they followed Paul’s:
1. STYLE of Ministry (vv. 1-2)
Our stay with you, though short, was not in vain. The Lord has raised up among you confident and courageous Christians committed to the truth of the Gospel. Thus, our visit with you was not a failure, a successful one which gave birth to a church, the living evidence of the fruit of this ministry.
To Paul, the primary ministry of every Christian is the ministry of CHARACTER. What we have become is far more important than what we have to say. Os Guiness said, “Character is what we are when no one is looking.” Paul’s private and public life became a shining example to the Thessalonians as he repeatedly said, “you know.” (vv. 1, 2, 5, 9, 11).
- ‘you know’ was not just an expression when we are running out of words to say
- you are well aware of my private and public life
- you carefully observed the manner I conducted the ministry
- you watched me closely day in and day out
It refers to the Thessalonians’ firsthand observation of Paul’s style of ministry. Paul applied in his own life what he preached. He himself was a walking illustration to convince the Thessalon-ians of the power of the Gospel which he preached to them “with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction.” (1:5a) He was the living example whose life had been changed by the power of the Gospel.
With the power of the Gospel and the Holy Spirit, we are changed inside out. God does not change our personality but our character is. A changed heart will manifest itself in our thoughts, words and deeds. Most of the time when we conduct our ministry,your actions can speak louder than our words. Because people will always scrutinize our every move whether or not it is in conjunction with what we say. Every Christian is under fire. The world looks at us under a microscope to see the flaw and error we make so they can shout to the whole world: “Didn’t I tell you so. Christianity is bogus. You are doing what you are not supposed to be doing.” Our behavior and our actions in the midst of a criticizing world must live up to its expectations.
Paul’s ministry was a COURAGEOUS ministry that was totally dependent on the Holy Spirit. Before they came to Thessalonica, in Philippi, Paul and Silas were stripped, beaten and severely flogged and thrown into prison (Acts 16:22,23). Such severe suffering can be discouraging had it not been for the joy that comes from the Holy Spirit (1:6). With the courage God can only give, Paul fearlessly preached the Gospel despite great opposition.
Illustration: Anger Management
2. style of Proclaiming the Message (vv. 3-4)