International Sunday School Lesson
For Week Ending June 13, 2010
Purpose: To demonstrate to others that Christ has made a difference in the way we live.
Scripture Text: 1st Thessalonians 2:1-13 (NRSV)
1 Thessalonians 2:1-13
(1)You yourselves know, brothers and sisters, that our coming to you was not in vain, (2)but though we had already suffered and been shamefully maltreated at Philippi, as you know, we had courage in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in spite of great opposition.(3)For our appeal does not spring from deceit or impure motives or trickery, (4)but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the message of the gospel, even so we speak, not to please mortals, but to please God who tests our hearts. (5)As you know and as God is our witness, we never came with words of flattery or with a pretext for greed; (6)nor did we seek praise from mortals, whether from you or from others, (7)though we might have made demands as apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, like a nurse tenderly caring for her own children. (8) So deeply do we care for you that we are determined to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you have become very dear to us.
(9) You remember our labour and toil, brothers and sisters; we worked night and day, so that we might not burden any of you while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. (10)You are witnesses, and God also, how pure, upright, and blameless our conduct was towards you believers. (11)As you know, we dealt with each one of you like a father with his children, (12)urging and encouraging you and pleading that you should lead a life worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.
(13) We also constantly give thanks to God for this, that when you received the word of God that you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word but as what it really is, God’s word, which is also at work in you believers.
My Thoughts by Burgess Walter
After Paul had been imprisoned in Phillipi and he and Silas were praying and singing hymns, God miraculously delivered them and the jailer that was watching them. (Acts 16:12-40) Paul is sent out of town and heads to Thessalonica. Paul is obviously buoyed and emboldened by the experience he had in Phillipi, and shares that in this letter. There had apparently been charges made against Paul and his entourage, that deceit, immorality and guile were used when he arrived at Thessalonica. Paul denounces such a thought and assures them his actions were approved by God, and God had entrusted him to share the good news of Jesus Christ's death and resurrection. Paul was not a politician, saying what the people wanted to hear, but rather he answered to God only. It is important to notice that God's message should not change to accommodate men, but should be what God has entrusted us to preach and teach.
Paul continues, it was not by flattering speech, nor any fancy garment or crowns, but he simply employed kindness, became one of them and did not ask for anything. Paul uses the example of a nurse used to nurse others children but cherishes her own children. There is a special bond between those we nurse, but there is even a stronger bond when those we nurse are our own children. Paul was responsible for this young church and he was not just a wet nurse but considered them his own children. Paul had not just shared the gospel, he had also shared the story of his life and conversion and his Damascus road experience with Jesus Christ. The kind of things you only share with family.
Paul goes on to remind them that he was never a burden to them, but earned his own way by toiling day and night, perhaps weaving goat hair into tents and other items needed in the community. Paul also calls on them to remember how he conducted himself, always in a way that brought honor and glory to God, never with anything but love toward them.
Paul is an example of how a pastor is to conduct himself, exhorting, comforting and charging. Wesley said in his notes, “By exhorting, we are moved to do a thing willingly; by comforting, to do it joyfully; by charging, to do it carefully.” (See NKJV)
Paul shares with his young flock that it is God's word and truth that works in them, believing Christians should imitate God, and their work and lives should bring honor and glory to the God they serve. If our goal is to please men, we will fall well short of what we have been empowered to do. Our call is to be faithful and obedient to the one that has empowered us. We won't always be the most popular, or use the most flattering words, but we should always be “urging”, “encouraging” and “pleading” as it says in the NRSV.