In this chapter, Paul gives us a good glimpse at the manner of his preaching, setting an example that should be followed when we ourselves preach the gospel.
- Don’t take the easy way out.
He writes: “with the help of our God, we dared to tell you his gospel in the face of strong opposition.” (1 Thessalonians 2:2). Despite what some of Paul’s accusers said, Paul did not only resort to preaching the gospel when it was easy or convenient. Rather, he spoke boldly for the Lord even amidst times of conflict, backlash and rebellion from the people.
2. Speak with integrity and truth.
I was reminded today in church that anyone preaching must make sure that what they are preaching is true. In fact, the preacher (who was not our regular pastor), insisted that if anything did not ring true about what he was preaching, the senior pastor should immediately get up and point this out. There would be no use in waiting until the preacher had finished, as by then, the damage would have been done.
“For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you.” (1 Thessalonians 2:3)
Paul emphasises that his preaching is motivated by the truth, and not from any deceit or uncleanliness of the spirit. Flattery and niceties should not be employed. Importantly, banish greed and pride, and do not seek glory from men. We need to make sure that when we are speaking on behalf of and for God, we are doing so solely in servitude for him, and that there are no hidden, selfish motives.
3. Practice what you preach.
“For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.” (1 Thessalonians 2:12).
The higher up you are, the further you fall. Those were the words a friend told me recently on the way to Hillsong church. While boarding the bus, a passer-by yelled repeatedly and aggressively at those on the bus – “Pedophiles!” “Molesters!” Utterly confused, I wondered aloud why he responded so. I knew the Catholic church had an issue with pedophilia – but the Christian church too? My friend explained that the founder of Hillsong had been implicated for child sexual abuse in 2000. He had to resign and never preached again. Almost 20 years on, the repercussions are still being felt. This definitely serves as a reminder that “above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
On top of that, we should do what Paul asks – encourage, comfort, and urge each other to live lives worthy of God. Keep each other in check, identify sins and mistakes, and, most importantly, hold each other accountable.