5 For we never came with flattering speech, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness— 6 nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others, even though as apostles of Christ we might have asserted our authority. 7 But we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children. 8Having so fond an affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us. 9 For you recall, brethren, our labor and hardship, how working night and day so as not to be a burden to any of you, we proclaimed to you the gospel of God.
Paul continues with the defense of his ministry, this time speaking of their work. He addresses 3 things here:
1) His words. He explains that the things they taught were not with flattering speech so as to try to trick them into believing or have a convincing enough argument to win them over. Nor did he try to earn praise from the people in order to get them to follow him.
2) His financial campaign. In verse 6 Paul mentions that they had a right to assert their authority, meaning he could have demanded financial support as was the custom of apostles during that time. Rather, they acted as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children. His meaning here is that they did not want to impart on them their financial burden. We see why, in verse 8 he explains how much they cared for and loved the people of Thessalonica and because of that love, they only wanted to share the Gospel with them, for their own good.
3) His labor. In addition to teaching the Gospel, Paul and his crew helped out around town. They didn’t act like a bunch of VIPs rolling through the area, rather they did their own share so that their presence was not a burden to the community.
These three points that Paul makes explains the selfless nature of their presence in Thessalonica. I believe this is another example we should follow.
1) In keeping with the theme of only “planting the seed” when telling others about Christ, we simply need to tell others the truth in love. We aren’t to convict or convince others (aside from the fact that it actually pushes people away from the Truth). We must have faith that God is in charge of belief, that we are only to inform. Salvation isn’t the result of trickery or schemed convincing. It’s about a free will choice to follow God and seek Him out. He gifts us with the belief and faith.
2) I can’t help but repeat what our pastor said a couple weeks ago. “If it’s God’s will, it’s God’s bill.” While fundraising is an essential part of any ministry, our focus should remain on those we are serving. I believe in the nonprofit world, it’s very easy to start worrying about and focusing on money instead of the purpose God has laid out for us. If not, we slide back into the worldly ways of worrying about money and serving it (to get more) instead of the task at hand.
3) We shouldn’t be a burden to others. Whether that is setting up camp in someone’s town or just our presence making them feel awkward and uncomfortable. If we truly are Christ followers, then we should strive to not be a burden to anyone.
What component of our lives or ministry do we need to improve to align ourselves with this Godly model?