1 & 2 Thessalonians

by Sim Kay Tee

Day 4

Read 1 Thessalonians 2:1-6

″Pastor accused of financial misappropriation″. ″Church elder convicted of accounting fraud″. ″Pastor guilty of cheating elderly wealthy widow″. Headlines like these tell of an insidious sin that has plagued the church of Christ since the beginning.

Unlike the many charlatans who preach for personal profit, let us live transparently and with integrity, knowing that God and our fellow believers will certainly hold us to account.

In the ancient world, itinerant philosophers and teachers would come into town to deliver lectures. Just like today, some of these speakers were pretenders who deceitfully used religion as ″a means to financial gain″ (1 Timothy 6:5; see also Titus 1:11; 2 Peter 2:3, 15). (Of course, this is different from giving a worker what he rightfully earns, as 1 Timothy 5:18 notes.)

Paul's detractors had accused him of deceitful motives in starting a church in Thessalonica, the prosperous provincial capital of Macedonia. The apostle, they charged, was quick to abandon his followers the moment his own life was threatened because his sole purpose had been to gain praise and money (1 Thessalonians 2:5-6).

Paul now addresses these charges. He explains his motives, abrupt departure, and continued absence; he defends his integrity and ministry, and clarifies his motivation, message, and methods.

As a minister of the gospel, the apostle was always careful to ensure that his conduct and motives were completely above board. He constantly emphasised the necessity and priority of transparency, sincerity, honesty, and accountability in his life and ministry. And he made sure that his message was never adulterated, his motives never impure, and his methods never improper.

How did he do this?

First, Paul made himself fully accountable to other believers-his life was always an open book. In this letter, he appeals to his readers' personal knowledge of how he had lived when he was with them, saying, ″You know how we lived among you for your sake.″ Six times he reminds them: ″You know″ (2:1, 2, 5, 11; 3:3, 4; emphases added). And he stresses: ″You can see we were not preaching with any deceit or impure motives or trickery″ (2:3, NLT; emphasis added).

Second, and more importantly, Paul was always answerable to God, who entrusted him with the mission to preach the good news. His single purpose was ″to please God, not people″, for ″He alone examines the motives of our hearts″ (v. 4, NLT). Since Paul knew that there could be no pretending before God, he could say again, with confidence, ″You know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed-God is our witness″ (v. 5).

Elsewhere, Paul also wrote: ″Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God″ (2 Corinthians 2:17). Like Paul, may we also be able to say confidently, ″You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed″ (1 Thessalonians 2:10). Unlike the many charlatans who preach for personal profit, let us live transparently and with integrity, knowing that God and our fellow believers will certainly hold us to account.

Think through:

Read what 2 Corinthians 4:1-2, Ephesians 5:3-5, and 1 Peter 5:2 say about integrity in Christian conduct and service. How do you measure up to these standards?

Paul says that God ″tests our hearts″ (1 Thessalonians 2:4). How might God's unceasing scrutiny guard today's Christian leaders against unworthy motives and actions? How could it change the way you live?




About Author

Sim Kay Tee is a Bible teacher and writer of Our Daily Bread Ministries. Based in Singapore, K.T. writes for the Discovery Series Bible Study guides, the Journey Through Series devotional, and is a regular contributor to the Insights for Our Daily Bread. K.T. has taught the Bible in various countries. He has three daughters and one granddaughter.

Author of Journey Through Series:

Our Daily Bread Journey Through® Series is a publication of Our Daily Bread Ministries.

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