Tuesday: Pleasing God (1 Thess. 2:4-6)

Read 1 Thessalonians 2:4-6. Describe the contrast between Paul’s motivation for ministry and the worldly alternatives he mentions. Why is it not always so easy to see the differences; that is, how can people deceive themselves regarding the purity of their own motives? Why is that so easy to do?

The word often translated “approved” (1 Thess. 2:4) reflects the idea of testing or examination. The apostles allowed God to test the integrity of their lives and intentions. The purpose of that testing was to make sure that the gospel they shared would not be distorted by a contrast between what they preached and how they lived.

Image © Krieg Barrie from GoodSalt.com

The popular philosophers of the day wrote about the importance of self-examination. If you want to make a difference in the world, they taught, you need to constantly examine your motives and intentions. Paul takes this idea one step further. In addition to self-examination, he is examined by God. God verified that what Paul preached was consistent with his inner life. In the ultimate sense, God is the only one worth pleasing.

Human beings need a sense of worth in order to function. We often seek this worth by accumulating possessions, by achievements, or through the positive opinions that others express about us. But all these sources of self-worth are fragile and so temporary. Genuine and lasting self-worth is found only through the gospel. When we fully grasp that Christ died for us, we begin to experience a sense of worth that nothing in this world can shake.

What does 1 Thessalonians 2:56 add to the three motivations listed in verse 3?

The concept of flattery picks up on the theme of pleasing people, a poor basis for evangelism. Paul is not motivated by what other people think of him. He also rules out another worldly motivation for ministry: money. People who have been blessed by someone’s ministry are usually eager to give money to that ministry or to buy its products. This can tempt God’s workers to lose their focus on the only motivation that really matters, pleasing God.

What in your life pleases God, and why? What doesn’t, and why not?



Tuesday: Pleasing God (1 Thess. 2:4-6) — 9 Comments

  1. As Paul mentioned the credentials they hold to preach the Gospel, he replied by enumerating what appeared to be criteria for being the preacher. (1) God sent them to spread the Gospel. (2) They were tasked to walk the talk. (3) Make witnessing a way of life. (4) remain faithful and steadfast. (5) be kindhearted and an example. (6) work hard: to reach the goal. (7) Keep the fire burning by talking to God.

    • Raul Morena, I agree with you. Being a preacher or a Christian it's not easy, it's a compromise to God and to his people about we're preaching.

  2. I suggest we turn to the Apostle Paul to give us some ideas on what a life that pleases God looks like. We see four characteristics of a life pleasing to the Lord. They are revealed by four participles in verses 10-12. They are: "bearing fruit"; "growing in knowledge"; "being strengthened"; and "giving thanks". Let's look at them more closely.

    • Onalenna, you forgot one other characteristic that is not in the list and isn't one that God desires, head strong! That characteristic didn't do anybody any good during his ministry except that it kept Paul going in the midst of persecution. We can start with his treatment of John Mark and end with his absolute determination to go to Jerusalem in spite of the warnings and counsel from numerous prophets and trusted companions. In my opinion the last was not a wise thing to do but I can admire Paul in that he was willing to do whatever needed to be done reguardless of what might happen to him, all for the sake of Christ. His hard headiness was both an asset and a drawback that God worked with.

      The point is that even Paul was a fallible human being that had to wrestle with sinful tendencies the same as we all do. Therefore, while we can praise the Lord for Paul's positive attributes, the sinless Son of God, Jesus, still reigns supreme as THE example. So let's follow Him instead.

  3. When the lesson talked about self-examination, I was reminded of the words of Socrates, "the unexamined life is not worth living". I have found that self-examination without God, is more like a maze; you always think you know you better, that you somehow now know the principles by which you must live your life. But it's always a dead end; there's always uncertainty. That's why I like what a pastor (Dr. Jeremiah) said about Heb 4:16, which says, "let us approach the throne of God with boldness". He explains that the Hebrew word translated as boldness really means "to say everything as is". When we talk to God we don't tell him new information, but we realize where we are in our walk with God. It really does keep the fire burning as we pray in the Spirit.

  4. As I studied today's lesson I remarked even more on how close Paul was to God. In this context, I remembered an evangelistic series about praying "in the name of Jesus" superstitiously, meaning we sometimes pray and think that by saying those five words at end of our prayer we are automatically entitled to all the requests we prayed for. What gave Paul the authority to say he was approved by God and to affirm he was entrusted with the gospel? What enables us to pray in Jesus' name knowing we are granted what we asked for? Isn't it a close relationship with Him? The message in the evangelistic series as well as today's lesson is that we are to develop and maintain a relationship with Christ each day. By doing so we are approved, entrusted, and empowered to share a living Gospel with others. A close relationship with God is definitely the only true motivation to stand firm on the message of truth we've received regardless what the world around us thinks or does. May God continue to bless you all!

  5. If we truly live according to the Bible we would fulfill these four characteristics, not perfectly though but enough to please God.


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