Continuing the Living In-Between series, David read from I Thessalonians 2:5-12. In this passage Paul is defending himself and his colleagues against false rumours being spread about them and their ministry. Paul was not concerned about his own reputation but rather about the effect of such bad press on the local, brand-new church at Thessalonica. As he deals directly with some of these rumours, Paul encourages the Thessalonian Christians to learn from him and, more than that, to imitate him. And as we in Windsor Baptist read this letter years down the line, in a very different context, there are still lessons to learn for our life with God and for our imitation of Jesus today. It can all be summed up in the 7 words at the end of our reading:
When Paul uses this word ‘walk’ (it occurs some 32 times in his letters) he is referring to the way we live our lives – it’s about lifestyle, daily conduct, practical godliness in all areas of life. It incorporates our attitudes, speech and actions; we are to live our whole lives in a manner that reflects God’s character and brings honour to God.
Paul names 3 specific accusations made against his team:
- That they were using flattery to impress and win converts;
- That they were only after people’s money;
That they were doing it to get attention – they were glory hunters.
He addresses these in turn:
David expressed his prayer that we in Windsor Baptist might never be justly accused of any of these things. He focused our attention on how Paul defends himself and his co-workers with the key phrase at the end of v.5:
God sees and knows motives and attitudes as well as actions. In further response to these 3 accusations, Paul uses 2 metaphors to explain what he and his co-workers were really all about. First, he says they have been caring like a mother:
Second, they have been like a father exhorting and encouraging his children to live well:
These 2 pictures provide the example for us today. And the reason all this matters – and mattered so much to Paul – was because the gospel Paul preached was backed up by the life he lived. There was no contradiction between the message and the messenger. How about us?
- Thinking back over the past week, how did you ‘walk’? Was your conduct on Thursday afternoon (at work, at home, with friends etc) worthy of God?
- How can we as a church gently love, care for and give ourselves to each other and those who need Jesus?
- This week: Walk in a manner worthy of God.