By Brooke Holt
"For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness. Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others, though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us." 1 Thessalonians 2:5-8
I recently read an article shared on social media as to why one man left his role of pastor at a church and why so many other ministers are following in his footsteps. The disgruntled pastor declared he was tired of having hundreds of bosses (the people in his congregation). He felt frustrated and tired. After almost 30 years in ministry, I can understand what this man is experiencing and sharing; however, are we really to have hundreds of bosses?
The need to be loved and approved of by his congregation motivated this pastor. Paul teaches the church in Thessalonica a different way. Paul and his companions (Silvanus and Timothy) did not build the church and disciple the people to receive praise or any reward. They faithfully proclaimed and taught the Gospel of Jesus Christ to benefit their hearers and to build the church. They were not seeking to receive but to serve.
As ministers of the Gospel, Paul and his associates could have expected the church members to care for them and provide for their needs. So as not to hinder the proclamation of the Gospel and the reception of that Gospel, Paul and his team made no demands upon the church. Instead, they sought to care for the people and to serve them. They did not render this service to win human approval or gain but love motivated them – love for God then love for God’s people. Paul goes so far as to use the maternal language of a nurse caring for her children. Just as a mother holds her children close and cares for them, Paul cared for these Thessalonians. Paul longed for his readers to understand the depth of his love and care for them.
This love and care fueled Paul’s ministry. In contrast to what Paul’s opponents conveyed, Paul was not about his own gain or fame. He sought to glorify God through preaching and teaching God’s plan of salvation through Jesus Christ. Paul defended his motivations so his ministry would not be compromised. If Paul’s ministry was compromised, then the very essence of the Gospel would be undermined. Thus, the integrity of Paul’s ministry was vital to Paul’s witness.
What motivates you to share the Gospel and to do God’s work? Is it the praise and adoration of people in your church? Are you seeking approval from the leaders or your friends? Do you long to appear holy and righteous before people? Examining the motivations of your heart is critical as the Lord longs for his disciples to render his work with a pure conscience and motivation.
May you take some time today to allow the Lord to search your heart and to know your motivations, to surrender the good and the bad to him, and then to align your heart with the heart of your heavenly Father.
Ask the Lord to search your heart today, to reveal the motivations within your heart, and then to purify your heart. We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Advent is like celebrating a national holiday in a foreign land — like observing the 4th of July as an expatriate. Locals do not understand the fuss. Advent is equal parts cherishing and missing home. AND it’s a mix of loving this world while getting ready to leave it behind. This makes Advent the most human and most complex celebration we have. Isaiah the prophet, David the psalmist, Paul the apostle, John the Baptist, Mary, Joseph, and Jesus all lived in one world and longed for the next. They loved this world and loved the world to come even more. In these 28 devotions in Face the Dawn, join them in wearing the paradox of Christianity- this world may be our home, but that world is HOME.
See all Advent resources here.
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