I Thessalonians 2:1 For yourselves, brethren, know our entrance in unto you, that it was not in vain:
2 But even after that we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi, we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention.
3 For our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile:
4 But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts.
5 For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloke of covetousness; God is witness:
6 Nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ.
God knows that we, those who are saved, can be discouraged at times with trials of life. He does not accept that we remain spiritually lethargic. We need to be reminded of how the Gospel has affected our hearts and how blessed we have been in being saved and being led in truth.
It was important to remind the saints here that the apostle Paul and his companions’ efforts had not been in vain. It is never a waste of time to reach out to the lost. We never know what the response will be, but every soul that is saved is worth it. Even if no one gets saved, it is still worthwhile to give people the Gospel. Somewhere down the road, someone might get saved. Paul and his companions had been faithful in preaching and teaching the truth and they had faced persecution for doing so, but they were not going to quit. We know from other accounts that John Mark was intimidated by the opposition that Paul and Barnabas faced. He did not trust in the Lord properly and he was not willing to accept the persecution that comes with knowing Christ. He would learn how to walk as a child of God, but for a time he was not fit to take on an evangelistic journey.
Paul reminded the saints that they had been treated poorly in Philippi. Paul and Silas had been beaten and imprisoned there. When the Gospel is faithfully proclaimed, there will be opposition. Sometimes that opposition can be quite hostile. The devil hates the truth. He lies to his followers and convinces them that the truth is evil. He is able to stir up the emotions in some of the lost and get them to be quite forceful against the truth.
Paul reminded the saints at Thessalonica that their efforts in that region had been with much contention. There had been opposition there as well. It was good that some of the people had responded favourably to the Gospel. God saw the need to remind the saints of the cost of serving Him. Christians are saved to serve the Lord. It is not a burden to the true child of God to serve God. It will be a blessing to the true child of God to be involved in serving the Lord. However, part of that blessing will be to suffer for the name of the Lord.
In verse 3 Paul reminded them that they had not used deceit, or uncleanness or guile. We do not need “clowns for Jesus” or similar distractions. We need faithful servants of the Lord who proclaim the truth with the power of the Holy Ghost and boldness. Paul and Silvanus and Timotheus had been sincere and genuine in their preaching of the Gospel. The Gospel is far too precious to try to mix it with deceit. There is no benefit to trying to trick lost people into trusting in a false brand of the Gospel. Lies and deceit do not save anyone.
In verse 4 Paul reminded them that they were not men pleasers. We have talked of this before. There are people who will oppose the truth. There are those who will want a compromised Gospel. People want to feel good in their sin. However, the truth is what makes a person free. Paul acknowledged that they had been allowed of God to preach the Gospel. God knows the heart of each individual. He blesses those who are faithful to Him with the privilege of preaching and teaching His Word. There are some saints who are more-or-less “pew warmers.” They are carnal and do not amount to much for the Lord. Paul had to address those types of people in Corinth. That letter was for others to read as well. Careless Christianity happens, but it is not acceptable to God. Paul and his companions were not careless and God “allowed” them to preach His Word. His Word is precious. It is more precious than fine gold. Jesus stated that we should not cast our pearls to the swine. The Pharisees did not want the truth, and they were not entrusted by God to give the truth. They could not grasp the truth because they opposed it.
There are far more false teachers today, than godly teachers. Far more people choose to follow the false teachers, rather than the truth. That will be true in every generation until the end of this wicked world. God knows those who are true to Him and He works through Godly men to help them to entrust the Gospel to others who are wanting to serve God faithfully. The faithful evangelist, pastor and teacher needs to be Spirit led and not lay hands suddenly on any man. Teach the person and work with them and observe their words and their actions. God will show who is worthy and who is not. Paul’s duty was to be sure that he was not intimidated by men. His goal needed to be to please God. That is always true. The devil wants to pressure God’s children to compromise. That does not help anyone.
Paul encouraged the saints to continue on in their walk with God. He reminded them that God was in charge and He was watching what Paul and his companions were doing. He could not bless them if they would have been compromisers.
There are too many “entertainers” who manufacture results and there are too many untaught people who focus on results without looking at the quality of the results. As we have mentioned, the trick of using deceit to get the person to follow you in a prayer is all too common. We are all emotional people. The Gospel can bring a lost person to tears. However, tears do not save. As we have stated, the Holy Spirit is the One Who brings conviction to the heart and when the sinner is listening to Him, he will want to follow through and be genuinely saved. The results of that will be a changed life. If the changed life is not there, then the prior actions were not genuine.
Paul did not have a chart on the wall or a thermometer to indicate souls saved. There were not bricks with names inscribed on them for souls saved or gifts given. Paul did not need to be endowed with a doctorate either. He just served the Lord faithfully. He encouraged Timothy with:
II Timothy 4:5 But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.
Our flesh craves the praise of men. It seems some yield to that selfish desire more than others. Paul and his companions were not of that type. They served God faithfully regardless of the cost. They were not going to change the message to get more people to praise them. They served the Lord faithfully and trusted in the Lord to work in the hearts of the hearers and do the Work that only He can do.
Paul also reminded the saints that they had not sought to be burdensome to them. They did not use trickery to try to get more money out of the people. True saints give to the work of the Lord because they value It. They love the Lord and they want to see His name exalted. Lost people need to be coerced into giving. They do so begrudgingly or if they know they will get some type of a kick-back. Paul wanted to be known as an apostle of Christ, not as a shyster. The saints in Thessalonica needed to be encouraged to believe the truth. There would be nay-sayers there who would spread lies. That is one of the devil’s tactics. Those who are truly saved, will follow after those who are genuine and they will grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.