World English Bible translation
2:1For you yourselves know, brothers, our visit to you hasn't been found vain, 2:2 but having suffered before and been shamefully treated, as you know, at Philippi, we grew bold in our God to tell you the gospel of God in much conflict. 2:3 For our exhortation is not of error, nor of uncleanness, nor in deception. 2:4 But even as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, who tests our hearts. 2:5 For neither were we at any time found using words of flattery, as you know, nor a cloak of covetousness (God is witness), 2:6 nor seeking glory from men (neither from you nor from others), when we might have claimed authority as apostles of Christ.
In the first chapter, Paul praises the Thessalonians for being willing to receive the gospel despite the hardships that he knew that it would bring them. And, Paul and Silas and Timothy knew about hardships. Before arriving at Thessalonica, they had been in Philippi. There Paul and Silvanus had been beaten and put into prison. They were run out of town.
But, such "shameful treatment" did not cause the apostles to question themselves or their mission. Instead, "we grew bold in our God to tell you the gospel of God in much conflict." Where did such boldness come from? The answer to this question can be found in the earlier chapter. The gospel came to the Thessalonians (and to others on this journey) "in power, and in the Holy Spirit, and with much assurance." When we looked at that earlier, the assurance seemed to be for the benefit of the Thessalonians. Here we see that God's work in their lives gave Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy assurance as well.
Had God deserted them in Philippi to be beaten and abused? In no way! It was God Himself that burst the doors of the prison and loosened the chains that bound them. Was Paul or Silas a super-evangelist who could walk up to anyone and convert them? No, everywhere that God led them they found people who were open and ready to hear the gospel. They knew that the hardships and shameful treatments were worthwhile because they could see God doing marvelous things all around them.
God had been testing them and proving them and they could see that God approved of their work by what the Spirit of God was doing through them. God had sent them out with little resources. There had been roadblocks and troubles around every corner. Everywhere they went the odds had been against them.
And yet, there was a growing core of people in Philippi who had heard and were telling other people about the Lord. The work in Corinth, though troubled at the start, showed great promise. And now, the news that Timothy brought from Thessalonica was even better than they could have hoped for. Not only was the seed planted in Thessalonica sprouting, it was flourishing!
Sometimes, in our own lives, we expect immediate assurance from God. Sometimes we are tentative and afraid that we may not be doing what God wants of us. Are we willing to see what God is doing with our lives? Are we willing to allow Him to accomplish His work through us? If we are willing to be servants of Christ, then He can give us the assurance that we crave.
But, such validation from God comes at a cost that few are willing to pay. We must be willing to give up covetousness and greed. We must be willing to give up the praise of men. We must be willing to hold the cause of Christ to be of such worth, that we are willing to sacrifice everything else to advance it.
You and I don't have that kind of strength and faith. But, there is one that does. And, He is willing to give you His strength and faith to accomplish what His Father wants done. Are you willing to let Him accomplish it through you?
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