Summary: We please God when we make pleasing Him a priority.
Title: Pleasing God
Text: I Thessalonians 2:1-12
The Apostle Paul was a gutsy guy. He did not hesitate to encourage people to imitate his life. He often said, “follow my example” or “imitate me.”
• Therefore I urge you to imitate me. II Corinthians 4:16
• Dear brothers and sisters, pattern your lives after mine, and learn from those who follow our example. Philippians 3:17
• For you know that you ought to imitate us… II Thessalonians 3:7
I guess it is probably a good idea to be a good example if you want to be imitated.
At an annual meeting of The American Heart Association, 300,000 doctors, nurses, and researchers met in Atlanta to discuss, among other things, the importance a low fat diet plays in keeping our hearts healthy. Yet during meal times, they consumed fat-filled fast food—such as bacon cheeseburgers and fries—at about the same rate as people from other conventions. When one cardiologist was asked whether or not his eating high fat meals set a bad example, he replied, "Not at all, I took my name tag off."
This might play into the old adage, “Those who can, do. Those who can’t teach.”
The Apostle Paul chose to live and act in a certain way so as to model behavior fitting a devoted follower of Christ. This text is an example of how he chose to live and the specific behaviors he wants his readers to copy or imitate. This morning we will be reflecting on three things we might like to emulate from Paul’s life and teaching.
The first thing we learn from Paul is that we please God when we live into our priorities.
I. We please God when we live into our priorities
For we speak as messengers approved by God to be entrusted with the Good News. Our purpose is to please God, not people. I Thessalonians 2:4
Life is a series of choices, some of which will shape the course of our lives. Choosing begins with the realization that we cannot have it all. So we opt for those things that are hopefully our best choices: matters of faith, education and occupation, life partner, family, friends, interests and hobbies, faith community, neighborhood, habits, financial planning, etc.
And ultimately woven into all of those choices is the all-encompassing desire to please and glorify God in all we think, say and do. “Whatever you do… do it all for the glory of God.” I Corinthians 10:31
Of all the things that are important to us… pleasing God is right up there at the top as a priority or value in our lives.
On September 8th, 2015, a British Airways jet caught fire at the Las Vegas airport, sending smoke billowing into the air, after suffering what the pilot described as a "catastrophic failure" of the left engine. The plane—a Boeing 777 heading from McCarran airport to London Gatwick—could be seen with flames around its fuselage.
But as the plane burst into smoke and flames, some observers saw something even more startling: People stopped during their evacuation to grab their luggage.
Imagine the cabin filling up with smoke and an eminent fuel explosion and fire… a one-minute evacuation time turned into a seven-minute evacuation time.
One veteran pilot with a major U.S. airline said, "We're always shaking our head. It doesn't matter what you say, people are going to do what they do." Or as one blogger summarized this news story: "People love their carry-ons more than life itself."
I would like to think one’s desire to please God in all things would be right up there with saving one’s luggage from a burning plane…
Paul made a point of stressing the importance of pleasing God rather than being concerned about pleasing other people. Ultimately, it is God alone who judges the motives of our hearts.
Q. With that truth in mind we would do well to weigh every choice by asking the question: Will this choice be pleasing to God?
A second thing we can learn from our text today is:
II. We please God when we practice integrity
So you can see we were not preaching from deceit or impure motives or trickery. Never once did we try to win you with flattery, as you well know. And God is our witness that we were not pretending to be your friends just to get your money! As for human praise, we have never sought it from you or anyone else. I Thessalonians 2:3 an 5-6
Paul knew what the Prophet Jeremiah warned about motives, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” Jeremiah 17:9
In our text he acknowledged that it is possible to be deceitful and have impure motives and be manipulative in our actions. That’s why he speaks to assure his readers that he lived a life of integrity among them. He did not flatter anyone. He did not pretend to be a friend in order to get something from them and the last thing on his mind was to get them to praise him or say nice things about him.