Summary: Looks at how Paul measured success in 1 THessalonians 2
The Measure of Success
How do you measure success and failure? (v.2: 1)
Measure success by your faithfulness to God (v. 2:2-6a)
Measure success by your dealings with people (v. 2:6b-12)
Treat them gently (v. 2:6b-7)
Treat them in love (v. 2:8-9)
Treat them Righteously(v. 2:10-12)
Have you ever experienced times where you are trying to do what you believe to be the thing that God wants you to do, only to have one bad circumstance after another seem to happen and think to yourself, “Boy, is this really supposed to be what God wants me doing, because things didn’t go very well.”
Maybe you have prayed and feel God has directed you to help out at a soup Kitchen but on the way you experience a flat tire and bad traffic. You get to the soup kitchen and many of the people seem ungrateful or like they are owed this meal. As you work, you are able to share your faith with a few people, but the people who run the soup kitchen are a little put out that you are doing that because this is secular soup kitchen, so they ask you not to come back. They don’t want people talking about Jesus there. When you leave, you find your car has been keyed and all your hub caps gone.
Success or failure?
Or maybe after praying, you sense a calling to be a foster parent. You go through all the paper work and interviews and you are willing to take in hard to place kids. You wait and wait and finally you get a kid with a lot of social and anger issues and he is very hard to deal with but you try and help him and share with him how the Lord loves him and cares for him and he seems to respond at first, but the anger issues persist. You continue to try sharing the hope of Jesus Christ with him but, as he has a few incidents at school and with some neighbor kids that you are trying to help him overcome and not deal with people in anger, he doesn’t respond well to your discipline and tells his DCFS social worker that you are trying to force Jesus down his throat and he wants out of there. They pull him out and they still haven’t placed another child with you. Success or failure?
To be able to answer the question of success or failure, it is vital that we know how to measure success?
Transition to Paul
Paul had some pretty terrible circumstances occur to him that could have easily discouraged him from continuing if he had measured success by the world’s means, but instead, he measured success by God’s standard of success.
I want you to turn to 1 Thessalonians 2:1-12 this morning and seek to discover how we might measure success to the glory of God.
As you turn there, I want to remind you of some of the background of Paul’s second missionary journey.
Background – 2nd Missionary Journey
In Acts 16, we find that Paul had wanted to go to Asia, but was prevented by the Spirit from doing so (Acts 16:6-7). Instead, Paul had a vision of a man calling him to Macedonia to preach the gospel, so he took it as the Spirit calling him there (Acts 16:10). So he sets out to follow the Lord.
We tend to think that if the Lord is calling us to do something, then things are going to go well in terms of it will happen smoothly, the circumstances will be good, people will respond well.
Advance Team - Olympics
If you live in Chicago area, we have a chance to get the Olympics in 2016. Well, the President may be going to Copenhagen to stump for Chicago’s bid. And to prepare the way if he goes, he has sent an advance team out there to make sure that everything would go smooth, if he happens to go.
Well, if the Lord has called us to do something, we think He has probably sent an advance team to take care of all the circumstances that would enable this journey to be successful. But here again, we have to know what success looks like in God’s eyes.
So what happens on this journey?
Well, Paul heads to Macedonia, to Philippi. He shares the gospel there and a few women believe. He drives out a demon from a slave girl and it causes the masses to turn against Paul and Silas. The get “severely flogged” and thrown in jail. They get to share the gospel with the jailer and he and his family believe. The next day they are released and asked to leave town.