Summary: Are you aware of the tricks the enemy will use to keep you from being used by God? Learn what they are and how to overcome them!
Do you ever do something on a dare? I remember once when I was young and foolish I was dared to fight this bully who was hanging around our swim meet. I bravely pushed out of the crowded circle with my fists up and tried to fight this guy who was obviously much bigger than me. Needless to say, I got severely trounced in the process.
But I thought of that story when looking at this chapter of 1st Thessalonians. Paul in a sense was like me - a big bully, the Jews, were picking a fight - saying "if you share this gospel of yours were going to kill you!" But Paul "dared" to bring the gospel anyway - and its a good thing he did, because it started a marvelous work in that city and saved the lives of countless people who responded.
Paul had his share of being beaten up - but that didnt stop him either. And just because there opposition to what we do for the Lord - we shouldnt stop either.
1 You know, brothers, that our visit to you was not a failure. 2 We had previously suffered and been insulted in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in spite of strong opposition.
" The first visit of Paul ended with him leaving under cover of darkness (Acts 17:1-10). But it wasnt a failure - the gospel was planted and disciples began to spring up.
" The enemy will try to convince us that when we run into opposition or problems, or ministry doesnt go the way we though that we have failed. But the gospel cannot fail even if appears to.
" We too should "dare" to share the good news no matter the opposition - and we can feel comfortable doing it - why?:
3 For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you. 4 On the contrary, we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts. 5 You know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed-God is our witness. 6 We were not looking for praise from men, not from you or anyone else.
" This is important because of the major questions on the minds of the Thessalonians - fear of opposition and fear of the future.
" The gospel cannot be compromised. Paul in Romans says:
Romans 1:16 I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes:
Now men can use the gospel for their own selfish greed and put a good face on it - but the gospel itself is still power to save.
Philippians 1:15-18 It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. 16 The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. 18 But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.
" Paul wants them to know that there was no "behind the scenes" trickery going on. Apparently some of the Jews who started the riot in Thessalonica may have claimed that Paul and Silas were defrauding them:
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.
" Paul was a tent-maker and used that trade in order to support himself and not be accused of trying to get rich off of the gospel. He didnt have to do that - and didnt always - but at times it was more important than others.
" Thats a good ministry practice too. We as the body of Christ should support those who preach and teach - but sharing the gospel is more important than getting paid for it - especially if it might be a stumbling block or a burden.