“…just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the Gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who examines our hearts.” 1 Thessalonians 2:4
What do we do to please other people?
Many folks wear masks. They walk into church or a crowd or their workplace smiling and glad-handing their friends or co-workers. When someone asks how they’re doing, their pat answer is, “Fine. I’m doing fine.”
Or they go out of their way to do something special for someone who doesn’t even acknowledge their effort. Or they sacrifice their time and money to help on a project and often get no recognition for their hard work.
When we try to please other people we think life will be better. We want other people to be happy with us so they’ll accept us and like us. To many folks, pleasing others is considered some kind of reward.
But pleasing other people doesn’t improve our lives. In fact if we don’t choose to please God first instead of pleasing other people, we lose. Hebrews 11:6 says, “…He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” If we live to please man we will fail; but if live to please God we will live an effective life. And we please God by living an obedient life.
Living in obedience to His word is an outward sign of an inward commitment. Living in obedience energizes us to discover the purpose for our lives that God holds. Obedience is a daily, moment-by-moment, choice-by-choice commitment of our hearts. Because as soon as we make a commitment to live in obedience to God, Satan comes along side us and says, “Oh, yeah. why don’t you try this?” Every obedient choice bumps up against a temptation or a sin the devil will offer up.
However, if we’re going to plug into an obedient, effective life Paul has some suggestions for us in 1 Thessalonians 2:1-12. One way to be effective is to look past our obstacles and think of them as opportunities. Paul and Timothy had already suffered and been mistreated in Philippi. But they, “had the boldness in our God to speak to you the gospel of God amid much opposition.” v.2:2. Then in V.4 they were committed to speak what was urgent and what counts.
To be effective in our obedience we must also live with a purity of purpose. In verse 2:3 Paul says, “our exhortation (what we are telling you about the Gospel) does not come from error or impurity or by way of deceit. In other words, when they taught they were being obedient to what had been revealed to them as Truth from God.
In addition to their actions, motivations are key to living an effective life in obedience to God. Are we motivated by the supremacy of the Gospel to lead us to learn what a life of obedience is all about? The Gospel must become the supreme authority in our lives to live effective, obedient lives.
If you’ve ever watched a sporting event, when cameras pan the crowds, many fans frantically wave their index fingers in the air for the cameras. Presumably they are indicating their team is Number One, whether the team is undefeated or has lost every game. Sports teams for many people are the supreme event in life. What would our world be like of all those sports fans declared God and His Gospel as supreme?
In addition we must live a heart-driven lifestyle. Our hearts must be devout, completely devoted to God and His will for our lives. “You are witnesses,” Paul says in v.10, “and so is God, how devoutly (devoted completely to God) and uprightly (living holy as set apart) and blamelessly (having a reputation so that others see who we are and want what we have) we behaved towards you believers.”
We don’t have to be superstars like Paul to be obedient or effective. In fact, when we walk in an effective, obedient manner to please God first we move forward in life. What does an effective, obedient life look like: It’s a normal person whose attitudes, lifestyle and purpose have been radically changed by a relationship with Jesus Christ, and whose living is motivated by the confident expectation that He is coming again.