A simple – and maybe obvious point – attracted our attention as we read the first 2 chapters of Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians. What motivates us to do things? What motivated Paul? Today, it can be: to make money, to create an opportunity for enjoyment; some excitement – and other things which centre on ourselves.
Paul makes a simple, yet vital point when he writes, “we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God” (2:4).
Let us be conscious, as Paul was – and states in his next words – that we, “… please God who tests our hearts”. So man, especially those who have no consciousness of the all-seeing eyes of God and his angels, speak and act with different motives. Paul observes this in the verses which follow; we note the contrast between his motives and theirs. He says, “for we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with pretext for greed – God is witness. Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others …” (verses 5,6). The extreme opposite of this is seen in those seeking political positions of high office.
Prayerful reading and meditation of God’s word is the antidote for any inclination to do this, notice how Paul was pleased with the believers at Thessalonica over this, writing, “we also thank God constantly … that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as what it really is, the word of God , which is at work in you believers” (2:13).
May that be happening among us, but it will only happen when we constantly read and reflect and act upon what we are reading so that the thoughts, God has inspired, become part of our way of thinking. We do this “to please God” and, as a result, it becomes true of us also that “the word of God” is “at work in you believers”.