Reading through the Bible together

Monday, May 4, 2015

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It was widely known in the ancient world that money, sex and power motivate much of human behavior. Many “street preachers” in the first century sold their ideas as a way to avoid having to work with their hands. Others found that women were attracted to articulate men who were in the public eye. Still others reveled in the power that great ideas gave them over others. But if you are motivated by money, sex or power, you are not motivated by the desire to please God. And you may not even recognize your true motivations.

In 1 Thess 2:1-12 we catch a glimpse of the inner life of Paul and his companions. Genuine ministry means to let God test your inner life and motivations, to speak what you truly believe, and to seek always to please God. Allowing God to test your inner life is the best way to develop and maintain spiritual authenticity (2:3-6). And that authenticity will not only be tested by God, it will be tested by life. Suffering and persecution help separate the genuine from the counterfeit. If the apostles had been motivated by money, sex or power, their experience in Philippi would have made them quit their mission (2:1-2). But the genuineness of their motivations affected everything that they did for the Thessalonians (2:7-12).

Paul and the other apostles were real people. They could be downcast and even angry when their message was rejected (1 Thess 2:13-16), but they were deeply encouraged by the eager response of the Thessalonians (1 Thess 2:17-20). Above all else, they allowed God to continually test their authenticity as apostles (2:3-6). If the message I preach has not changed my own life, it will be of little use to those to whom I preach.

Jon Paulien

Loma Linda University

United States