The Ideal Servant
I Thessalonians 2:1-12
Being a servant is a calling. And you have that call. Preachers are called, but you are called as well.
Preachers go ‘calling’. Once a minister went to call on one of the elderly widows of the church. While visiting with her, he noticed a bowl of shelled peanuts on the coffee table. During the conversation he began nibbling on them and soon the bowl was empty. He then apologized to the woman for eating all of her peanuts. She replied, "That's OK, Preacher, it's no bother. You see, three weeks ago I had all my teeth pulled. Since that time, I've just been sucking the chocolate off the peanuts and putting them back in that bowl."
You just never know what's going to happen on a call. But you can be sure you have a calling. But will you answer that call and how good of a servant will you be?
Paul and company were the ideal servants because of their:
1. Spiritual power.
v. 1 ‘not in vain’ = ‘not void of power’. Not just a random visit. God blessed and it was obvious that He was ‘in it.’ There was fruit.
I do not want to be a powerless preacher. I don’t want what I say to be in vain. So it had better be Biblical, and prayed over, and endued w/ power.
How many want to see souls saved here? How many HAVE TO see souls saved? There’s a difference!
Hindrances to power:
Ill.—John McGraw was a young 3rd baseman on the Orioles and had a habit of slowing down guys who were rounding 3rd heading for home. He would put his finger in their belt loop as they passed. He is one of the main reasons that MLB added a 3rd base umpire to the field!
Prayerlessness is a clog in the channel of blessing, and slows us down. We can do more by doing less, and praying more!
2. Spiritual perseverance.
v. 2 Even after we were imprisoned at Philippi, we didn’t quit, Paul said.
Ill.-- The old evangelist Bud Robinson is reported to have prayed the following prayer every day: "O Lord, give me a backbone as big as a saw log & ribs like the sleepers under the church floor. Put iron shoes on my feet & galvanized breeches on my body. Give me a rhinoceros hide for skin & hang up a wagon-load of determination in the gable-end of my soul. Help me to sign the contract to fight the devil as long as I've got a tooth--& then gum him until I die".
Yet it doesn’t take much to get some Christians to quit.
Ill.—Missionary Jonathan Goforth gave his life to China. At 70 years old his area was closed and he was forced to leave. He tried to go thru 5 other open doors to other areas, but each were closed in his face. His wife was very ill, he had 2 invalids living with him and caring for them. But he wouldn’t quit. On his 6th attempt he was granted entrance into NW Manchuria and there he baptized nearly 1,000!
Most today would have seen being imprisoned as a closed door, but it wasn’t. It was an attempt of Satan to stop them. All that glitters is not God! Satan is a powerful spirit being, and his forces are all around us. Don’t let circumstances guide your life!
Every day I do things I don’t like to do. Today I got up! I didn’t want to. Then I showered, even though that’s a time constraint. Then I weighed myself. Then I did some stretching, and it hurt. Then I came to work. I didn’t like doing these things. Then I got calls and had to minister to people. I wanted to help some of them, and some I didn’t. I’m being honest. But it was right!
3. Spiritual purpose.
v. 3-6 Our spiritual purpose must be right. Do what is right in the right way for the right reasons. Make sure your motives are pure.
In those days the priests of the pagan temples not only lived corrupt lives, but they were known for being greedy, selfish mercenaries. They would do anything to accomplish their ambitions.
v. 3 “We didn’t deceive you into making a decision”
v. 4 “We didn’t dilute the message”
If I preach on every sin in the Bible except for the very sin we’re guilty of then I am not a bold preacher.
Martin Luther: “If I declare with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the Word of God except precisely the little point that the world and the devil are attacking I am not confessing Christ however boldly I may be professing Christ.”
Paul says, we tell it like it is.
Yet it is understood in many churches that some topics are off limits. You don’t preach on tobacco in the Carolinas, or dress standards along the beach. You can’t touch politics in many places, or suggest have a bus route to inner city kids in others. Don’t talk about money to this certain crowd, and don’t preach on hell anymore at all...it’s just not a good subject!
v. 5 “We didn’t delve into flattery”
Ill.—flattery is unearned praise. I sold Bibles one summer in college, door to door. I saw houses w/ dirt so thick you could grow crops, and I also saw salesmen compliment those homes. Did I ever do that? Let’s move on!
You can’t please everyone, nor should you try.
Ill—Winston Churchill knew that public favor was no proof of real success. Once, after he gave a speech for which 10,000 people came out, a friend asked, "Winston, aren't you impressed that 10,000 people came to hear you speak?" Churchill replied, "Not really. 100,000 would come to see me hang."
If we are truly preaching the gospel "entrusted to us by God" then there will always be people who are displeased with us.
An old fable that has been passed down for generations tells about an elderly man who was traveling with a boy and a donkey. As they walked through a village, the man was leading the donkey and the boy was walking behind. The townspeople said the old man was a fool for not riding, so to please them he climbed up on the animal's back. When they came to the next village, the people said the old man was cruel to let the child walk while he enjoyed the ride. So, to please them, he got off and set the boy on the animal's back and continued on his way. In the third village, people accused the child of being lazy for making the old man walk, and the suggestion was made that they both ride. So the man climbed on and they set off again. In the fourth village, the townspeople were indignant at the cruelty to the donkey because he was made to carry two people. The frustrated man was last seen carrying the donkey down the road.
If we preach to please everybody we might please some, but we definitely won't be preaching to please God.
If Jesus preached to please people, why did He end up nailed to a cross? If Paul preached to please people, why did he end up beaten, & shipwrecked, & imprisoned? If Peter & John preached to please people, why were they flogged? If Stephen preached to please people, why was he stoned? True Gospel preaching always ends up in some form of persecution.
Now we should not seek out persecution or opposition, we simply know that it will happen if we are true to the Lord's message He has given us.
v. 5b Paul says, “God is witness”
His motives were open and pure.
4. Spiritual parenting.
v. 7 This is a nursing mother, nourishing and cherishing and holding close her little one.
A nurse pours her own life into another.
Ill.—I remember when my wife nursed the twins, sometimes double barrel. I could see the life melting away in her face. She was feeding them and I would have to be feeding her or she would die! Once she was forced to feed in a moving car. Meals on wheels we called it!
v. 11 Here is spiritual fatherhood, laying forth a challenge and raising to maturity. Encouraging and comforting as needed as well.
A problem in churches today is we are only concerned with birthing new converts or new members, but then they don’t care about them. It’s spiritual abortion! Conception is only the beginning, but we must disciple and love them over years of time to where they need to be.
We need mature believers who will help raise others to maturity.
v. 8 This is reproducing yourself in another. This is the ideal Christian servant.
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