This series started by looking at Paul’s boldness and his avoidance of flattering speech.
All of these attributes come from 1 Thessalonians 2, and they are all the result of one thing: Paul’s focus on and commitment to the Gospel of Christ.
Paul never lost sight of the goal: preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the salvation and transformation of all who believe.
Today’s topics come from 1 Thess. 2:5-6, where Paul says, " … nor with a pretext for greed … nor did we seek glory from men" (NASB).
Both these things …
- Glory from men
… have to with personal gain.
We are all prone not only to being influenced by greed and glory-seeking, but also to being deceived by them.
Exhort one another daily, while it is called today, lest any of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. (Heb. 3:13)
I have never heard of a deceived person who knew they were deceived.
By definition, a deceived person thinks they’re right. A person deceived by sin thinks he’s not sinning.
A person deceived by greed and glory believes they are not self-seeking. They believe they care about God and about the ministry of the Word of God.
Our protection from these things—according to the writer of Hebrews—is being exhorted/encouraged (parakaleo can mean either) on a daily basis.
Don’t judge yourself in such matters. Let God judge you, and ask your brothers and sisters in Christ to judge you as well … not in condemnation, but in exhortation and, thus, love.
Glory from Men
If there’s anything that has a stronger draw on the hearts of men than money (and women), then it’s glory. We love to be glorified. We love to be held in honor. We love to lead. We love to be respected.
This is such a strong influence on us that God has provided many ways for us to battle the temptation and deception of glory.
Deliverance from Glory-Seeking
First, you can count on God to humiliate you. You can count on God—if you’re really his and not marked for perdition because of your self-will—to ensure that you have plenty of opportunity to be humbled.
Humbled, though is a nice word. Humiliated, however, is not so nice. Do not fret when God humiliates you. It hurts badly, but it is important for your own salvation.
2. Weakness of the Flesh
Many Christians are deceived into thinking that God is concerned about correcting all their faults.
He’s concerned about making you useful, and perfect people aren’t all that useful. They’re impossible to follow.
It’s important that a minister of the Gospel have weaknesses and struggles. It’s important that people know they have them.
Paul had a "messenger of satan" that perplexed him. He cried out to God for deliverance, but God told him that God’s strength would only be made perfect in weakness (2 Cor. 12:9).
Jimmy Swaggart and Ted Haggard had weaknesses and temptations … sexual ones. I assure you that they are not the only preachers of the Gospel with such struggles.
Their temptations and subsequent sin were exposed publicly.
God will not deliver you from weaknesses and temptations. He will only deliver you from sin.
Nor does God intend to deliver you by public exposure. He wants you to privately expose yourself.
Confess your faults one to another and pray for one another so that you may be healed. (Jam. 5:14)
We don’t make provision for weaknesses in leaders today. Leaders are separated from the people. The church is not a family. It’s more like a manager (the pastor), some players (active members of the church), and a crowd of fans—some for the team and some against it.
Thus, church leaders are forced to perform. No provision is made for the fact that God sends messengers of satan to them, working on them, wearing them down, making them needy, causing them to struggle … so that the power and the excellency would always be his and never theirs.
Church leaders must come from among us.
Obtaining church leaders from seminaries is a practice far more foolish and dangerous than we realize. Beyond the fact that it’s unbiblical, against the tradition of the apostles, and we don’t care … beyond all that, it’s horribly dangerous.
It produces Jimmy Swaggarts and Ted Haggards.
A church leader should be confessing his weaknesses, obtaining prayer, and being healed … humbled all the time, considering himself, lest he also be tempted.
The tried men of our elders preside over us, obtaining that honour not by purchase, but by established character. (Tertullian, Apology 39, c. A.D. 200)
We observe to come from divine authority, that the elder should be chosen in the presence of the people under the eyes of all, and should be approved worthy and suitable by public judgment and testimony. (Cyprian, "To the Clergy and People of Spain"; c. A.D. 250)
Let me just drop this here. I’m sure there’s more to say, but that’s a lot to chew on if you read all this.
I mentioned at the start that Paul was able to say those things in 1 Thess. 2 because he was focused on the Gospel and its transforming power. He was never moved from his goal. He was always steady and straight ahead.
The things above are true for disciples. They are true for those that want to be transformed by God.
Others may find that God doesn’t get in their way. He doesn’t humble them. Their goal is to honor themselves, not to honor God, and so God doesn’t deal with them at all.
Instead, they hear the worst thing that anyone can hear from God, which is "your will be done."
So if you have been called by God as a worker in his body or as a preacher of the Gospel, don’t fret your weaknesses … confess them. Ask for prayer. Be transformed and healed by the prayers of your brothers and sisters, and thus live in humility, apart from the glory of men, a true servant of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.