Verse: 1 Thessalonians 2:1-4
1 For you yourselves know, brothers, that our coming to you was not in vain.
2 But though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict.
3 For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive,
4 but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts.
In this first of his letters to the church at Thessalonica, Paul spends the first chapter fondly recalling the time he and Silas spent there (recorded in Acts 17) and praising the Christians there for the positive news he has heard regarding them since his departure. As Chapter 2 begins, he gets into more specifics about his visit…
I think there are two main takeaways from this passage:
1) We can’t let setbacks (even persecution) stop us from spreading the Gospel.
The Bible is full of examples of followers of Christ suffering for the sake of his message. This is just one of Paul’s many examples of such experiences. You may be thinking, “but I’m not Paul”. That’s okay…none of us are. But if we are confident in what we believe, we can have “boldness in our God” to carry on, even in the face of mockery, ridicule, and threats of (or even actual) violence and other consequences. Because as Paul testifies in verse 1, that perseverance will not be “in vain”.
2) We can’t “water down” the Gospel in an effort to be appealing.
Even though our mission is to win believers to God, our real audience is him “who tests our hearts”. We do others and ourselves a disservice when we sugar-coat the truth in order to tell them what they want to hear. Jesus himself said (John 8:31-32), “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” If setting the world free from the shackles of sin is truly our goal, how can we expect to accomplish that with anything less than the truth?
Whether you’re new to the faith, old to the faith, or still wrestling with your faith, find yourself a local church that unashamedly preaches the full Gospel of Jesus Christ. Then share it with those around you.
God, thank you for putting men and women in my life who are not ashamed of the Gospel. Please help me to be more like them, so that I can help win others for your Kingdom. Amen.
Author: Dave MacDonald