Summary: How and why we serve the Body of Christ is as important as what we do.
The Right Thing in the Right Way for the Right Reasons
1. Our church has not always been a peace. We have had our conflicts over the years, and I have sometimes been labeled this way or that.
2. One challenge a church leader has in such situations is this: Do I defend myself or let time show who is right and who is wrong? That can be a tough answer. Sometimes one approach is appropriate, and other times another approach is best. Sometimes the more you defend yourself, the more guilty you look.
Paul had to deal with these attacks constantly, as in the text before us. In the Thessalonian conflict, Paul decided it was best to defend himself.
Bible scholar William Hendriksen comments on this text: "A careful study of Paul’s Defence shows that the slander by means of which his enemies were trying to undermine the influence of his message amounted to this:
’Paul and his associates are deluded individuals who for selfish reasons and with
trickery are trying to exploit the people.’ For the sake of the gospel this charge had to
be answered, in order that suspicion might be swept aside. The opponents knew very
well what they were doing. They reasoned thus: ’If we succeed in awakening distrust
with respect to the messengers, the message will die a natural death.’ Accordingly,
Paul had no choice: love for the gospel necessitated self-defense."
In defending his record, Paul exemplifies for us the nature of the ministry God has for each of us.
Main Idea: How and why we serve the Body of Christ is as important as what we do.
I. We Should Serve ETHICALLY (1-6a)
Paul is not tooting his own shofar, but sharing facts that they themselves had witnessed
A. A successful OUTREACH (1)
• You know, brothers, that our visit to you was not a failure.
Another pastor stood up to preach his first sermon. He was so frightened that he could hardly speak, but he had prepared a good, long message, so he just kept plodding through it. After a few minutes a man yelled from the back of the church, “We can’t HEAR you back here!” The pastor tried to preach louder, but a couple minutes later, the man called out again, “We can’t HEAR you!” The young preacher tried a little harder but now he was really nervous. Finally, the man at the back stood up and shouted, “We can’t hear a thing you’re saying!”
Just then another man in the front row stood up, turned around and said, “What are you COMPLAINING about? Just sit down and be thankful…"
(Brian Bill, Sermon Central)
• But how do we measure success? By the 3 B’s -- bucks, bodies, and buildings? Or by the quality of believers we produce and the ethical nature of the ministries we have?
B. A PAINFUL visit (2)
2We 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.
• Before he came: "In Philippi, Paul and Silas had been beaten and severely flogged; they had been put in prison with their feet in stocks (Acts 16:22-24) and possibly otherwise cruelly mistreated because they had rescued a slave girl in the name of Jesus Christ. They had also been insulted by being arrested unjustly, stripped of their clothes, and treated like dangerous fugitives. Their Roman citizenship had been violated, and for this Paul demanded restitution (Acts 16:37). Still staggering from these injuries and indignities, the two came to Thessalonica. Under such conditions, most people would have refrained from repeating a message that had led to such violent treatment, but not these men."
• While there
C. An ethical PRESENTATION (3)
For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you.
D. A RESPONSIBLE attitude (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.
Richard Tow preached, "How can I tell the difference between someone who seeks to please God and someone who seeks to please men? Hear me carefully. The person who seeks to please men makes decisions based upon expediency—what is the line of least resistance and what is popular with the people, especially the powerful people. In contrast to that, the person who seeks to please God makes decisions based upon principle—especially principles found in the word of God."
Harry Truman once said: "I wonder how far Moses would have gone if he’d taken a poll in Egypt? What would Jesus Christ have preached if he’d had taken a poll in Israel? Where would the Reformation have gone if Martin Luther had taken a poll? It isn’t polls or public opinion of the moment that counts. It is right and wrong and leadership--- men with fortitude and honesty, and a belief in the right that makes epochs in the history of the world". 1945