Paul is taking the Thessalonian readers on a short remembrance trip. He is reminding them of Paul and company’s behavior towards them and their reaction towards the gospel.
Paul and his group came on this second missionary journey with the purpose of spreading the gospel as far and wide as they could. They did not come to get rich or famous. They didn’t go because the gospel was the newest popular thing out there and wanted to ride its wave. They went out of conviction and commitment.
During their travels they did not impose on those they ministered to. They did not ask the new churches to support them. They worked their way across the journey. And they did it with integrity.
Paul reminds the church that they were entitled to make demands for accommodations and food as an apostle of Christ. When Jesus first sent His disciples out He instructed them not to take any provisions. He said that “a workman was worthy of his hire” (Luke 10:7). The customs of the time dictated that those who teach you should be supported by you too. Later He instructed His disciples to take provision but that didn’t relieve the host of their responsibility.
But Paul and his party never availed themselves of this right. Instead they divided their time between supporting themselves and ministering to the people. I’m more than certain that God saw to their needs too. They showed their character in this way. They showed their lack of greed, their commitment to the gospel, and their love for those who they were trying to reach.
Their behavior went a long way to witnessing for their words. How much easier is it to listen to someone who walks their talk? You sit up and take notice when you are offered something with NO strings attached. Skepticism isn’t uncommon in the beginning but once their character is proved out, the message holds even more weight.
I believe that is part of the reason those listening to Paul received what he shared so quickly. Of course the most important reason was because of the Holy Spirit’s miracles and opening of their spiritual eyes and ears.
Paul was overjoyed that this group of people didn’t run at the first sign of trouble. There was trouble from the beginning and it didn’t let up, even after Paul and company departed. This church had “good soil.” I wonder if the persecution helped the seed go deeper in the beginning.
They accepted the fact of persecution because they saw how Paul conducted himself while in the midst of it. He was their role model and Jesus was his.
Today our preachers tend to teach that everything will be “ok” once we accept Jesus. In the overall scheme of time it will be. But that doesn’t mean that nothing bad is ever going to happen to those who follow Jesus. In fact, He promised us trouble in this life but He said not to be overcome by it because He overcame the world. He left us a lot of good examples to follow. We need to choose to be imitators of Christ just like this body of believers did. “Damn the torpedoes, full steam ahead!”
Thank You Jesus for Your amazing grace and Your example for us. I know I will never live up to it fully but I want to give it my all when trying. Thank You for all the other imperfect examples You gave me in Your word. If I didn’t see how You used these other people I wouldn’t have any hope that You could use me too. I don’t know what Your plans are for the rest of my life but I trust You with it. I trust You to lead me where You want me to go. I trust You to uphold me in whatever situation You bring me to. I know that nothing can separate us. Help me walk in that surety more every day. Remind me when fear starts to creep in about the future that YOU hold my future. When Satan tries to remind me of my past or predict a gloomy future for me, help me BOLDLY remind him of HIS future. His is set in stone! Mine is set in the palm of Your hands.