TUESDAY, DECEMBER 5
SCRIPTURE: 1 THESSALONIANS 2
As we looked at chapter one yesterday, we saw Paul in the role of an evangelist. Much of that first chapter is about how he and his friends came to Thessalonica and preached the Gospel “in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction” (1 Thessalonians 1:5)
In the chapter that we have before us today, we see a different role for Paul. In many ways this chapter is not about Paul the evangelist but Paul the pastor. God’s plan for the Gospel is to use people to take the Good News to those who haven’t heard/believed. That’s evangelism. But His plan is also to use people to help those who are believers to be nurtured and matured in the Gospel. That’s pastoral care.
As Paul begins to talk about his role as pastor, he speaks about the fact that God “entrusted” him with the Gospel. God took something of infinite value (the Gospel) and gave it to Paul. In every sense of the word, this means that Paul was to be a steward or manager of that Gospel. God gave Paul the Gospel to use in such a way that it would bring glory to God and good to others.
But the first responsibility of a steward or manager is to be faithful with what the owner would want. That’s the reason in verses 4-6, Paul puts a lot of emphasis on the fact that what he was doing was being done to please God not man and to make sure God got the glory and not man.
From the description of a steward or manager, Paul moves on to comparing pastoring to the responsibility of a mom caring for young children (verse 7). Young children are completely dependent upon their mom for their survival. Moms love their babies. Moms make sure their babies stay warm, safe and well fed so they can grow.
New believers are much like very young children. They need a lot of personal attention. They need mature believers to care for them and care about them. They need mature believers to help them grow. Paul’s solution to that for the Thessalonians was to share the Gospel with them but also to give himself to them. New believers desperately need the Gospel. They also need mature believer to walk with them because personal relationships are so important.
Paul shifts the comparison again. In verse 11, he compares himself to a father. He speaks of teaching the believers and encouraging them. As children get older, instruction becomes very important. Dads need to teach their children how to live right. But kids also need encouragement when they don’t do so well.
Paul speaks of challenging those Thessalonians to live in a manner worthy of God (verse 12). That means Paul had to teach them. He had to encourage them. He had to correct them. He had to walk alongside of them. By the way, that’s not a bad description of pastoral ministry.
The chapter ends with Paul speaking like any good parent. He speaks of being separated from his friends in Thessalonica. He speaks of wanting and trying to get back to see them. But since he had not been able to get that done, he at least wrote them this letter.
And because he wrote to them, he also writes to us. And in this most personal letter, we are reminded of the power of the Gospel not only to save us but to sanctify us. We are also reminded of the incredible value of having other people in our lives as we walk through this Christian life. Thank God for a great Gospel, good friends and good pastors who do this so well for so many.