“You yourselves know, brothers and sisters, that our coming to you was not in vain, but though we had already suffered and been shamefully mistreated at Philippi, as you know, we had courage in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in spite of great opposition.” (I Thessalonians 2:1 – 2)
While the gospel that Paul taught was well received by converts and new believers, others in the towns and cities he visited did not welcome this preaching. He was beaten and tortured in a way that is forbidden to do to Roman citizens, of which Paul is actually one. But this treatment did not deter Paul in traveling to other cities, Thessalonica for example, to preach the news of Jesus Christ.
“For our appeal does not spring from deceit or impure motives or trickery, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the message of the gospel, even so we speak, not to please mortals, but to please God who tests our hearts.” (Verses 4 – 5)
Most certainly many were displeased by the preaching Paul did; Philippi was not the only place he was pursued and scourged. If his intent was to make friends and influence people positively, he would have come with a different message. But he came with the message that the Divine had laid upon his heart.
“As you know and as God is our witness, we never came with words of flattery or with a pretext for greed; nor did we seek praise from mortals, whether from you or from others, though we might have made demands as apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, like a nurse tenderly caring for her own children.” (Verses 6 – 7)
Apparently as envoys of the Divine they could have asked for support and sustenance during their stay. I am thinking back to what Jesus told his disciples when he sent them out, to stay only where they were welcome and to accept what was served and provided to them. Paul says he could have claimed that right of hospitality, but did not want to impose on them. He was, in sense, providing them with a great gift, and did not want them to have to “pay” for that gift.
“So deeply do we care for you that we are determined to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you have become very dear to us.” (Verse 8)
It seems that when Paul and his companions were in Thessalonica, there were some problems with the religious officials there, and some believers were harassed because of hosting Paul and his fellow travelers. So left there moving on to the next city. Paul wants to assure the believers, however, that he did not leave Thessalonica because he did not care about them; but he cared so greatly for them he did not want his presence to cause problems for them. (I owe this insight to the biblical commentator Albert Barnes. )
How often, beloved readers, does a person of importance impose him or herself on an individual claiming it is for “their benefit” when in reality it is that person who seeks prestige and honor assuming that any cost to others is worth it in exchange for that “important” person’s presence. This is not the way of Christians, beloved reader, not at all!
Yesterday we focused on laying down one’s burdens, specifically when you have accomplished your life’s tasks, and resting in the Lord. But today is for those who are still working and serving under the Lord. Do not think this hard labor though. With the Divine by your side, the obligations and tasks that are yours will feel more like blessings received than work toiled at. So may the Divine be with you every step of your days. Shalom & Selah!