July 1, 2020
Thank you for joining us in prayer today for our prodigals and for revival. The Bible says, “The earnest prayer of a righteous man has great power and wonderful results” (Jas. 5:16 TLB). C. S. Lewis once said, “Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.” Prayer is one of those right things. Keep at it!
The apostle Paul was a man of integrity. In 1 Thessalonians 2, we get a glimpse of his character and see four traits worth emulating.
Firstly, Paul was courageous. “Yet our God gave us the courage to declare his Good News to you boldly, in spite of great opposition” (1 Thes. 2:2 NLT).
It’s inspiring to hear stories of courage and bravery. Daylan McLee is one current-day example. When he heard a crash outside his home and saw the mangled police car going up in flames with Officer Jay Hanley in it, Daylan said, “I’m not going to let him die” and then risked his life saving him. What made his act of bravery especially unusual, is that he had been a victim of injustice in the past.
McLee, who is Black, was wrongly arrested and spent a year in jail until a jury, after reviewing security video, acquitted him of all charges. That was a full year lost—away from his children and his mother, who was ill at the time and recently passed away.
He had another run-in with officers a few months ago, when he ran from a porch gathering after officers in plain clothes and vests approached with guns drawn. He said they did not announce they were officers and that he stopped running and put his hands behind his head when they said they were police. He said he was charged with fleeing and resisting arrest, but added that during the arrest, an officer kicked him in the face through a fence and split his lip. He said the use of force was caught on a security camera and that he plans to fight the charges.
After saving Officer Hanley's life, McLee said he couldn't blame every police officer despite bad interactions with some: "We need to work on our humanity…that’s the main problem of this world." He added: "I don't want to be called a hero. I just want to be known as an individual who's an upstanding man.” Whether he is called a hero or just an upstanding man, the fact remains, what he did took courage. He did the right thing. Instead of harboring bitterness or branding all police as bad because of the actions of a few, he chose to risk his life in an act of kindness and courage. His character mattered to him.
When it comes to sharing the gospel for the purpose of saving the souls of sinners, we too need to do the right thing. Despite the tremendous conflict in Thessalonica, Paul was bold in his God.
Secondly, Paul was sincere. “For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts. For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness. Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others, though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ” (1 Thes. 2:3-6 ESV).
These characteristics—not flattering, not being greedy, or not seeking self-glory—are traits of a person who is real before God, not perfect but real. Paul’s desire in all of this was to be “approved by God” and not to please people. Flattery is saying something to a person’s face that you would not say behind their back. Greed is desiring what does not belong to you. And self-glory is robbing God of the honor that is rightfully His. We need to root these out of our lives if we are going to be people of sincerity.
Thirdly, Paul was gentle. “But we were as gentle among you as a mother feeding and caring for her own children. We loved you dearly—so dearly that we gave you not only God’s message but our own lives too” (1 Thes. 2:7-8 TLB).
Gentleness is not a course that is taught in our colleges or universities. It is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, a quality Jesus lived out, and one that marked Paul. And gentleness should characterize us in our interactions with one another. It is a demonstration of true love. The analogy used is that of a mother nursing her child. When we exhibit gentleness we are showing that we truly care.
Fourthly, Paul was encouraging.”For you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory” (1 Thes.2:11-12 ESV).
The picture now shifts from the tenderness of a mother to the teaching of a father. It would be common in the first-century culture for a son to learn the trade of his father. That would require hands-on, experiential teaching, along with much patience as the child slowly began to understand the details of the trade. It would require a father not to be exasperated and short-tempered, but rather to encourage, to build up, so that the person was blessed and the work prospered.
If your words are not building people up, they are tearing them down, and God is a builder, not a wrecker. This is a good time for all of us to assess our speech and the effect it has on others.
Thanks for reading and as we allow these truths to develop in our lives we will become like the One who called us.
Love in Christ,
Bryan and Rachel
P.S. Happy Canada Day!