Have you ever had a fear of something because of a memory of a past event? We can all answer yes to this because of the brain we’ve inherited. Our brains are meant to protect us from harm. They are doing their job when we feel anxious or concerned. Paul is sharing something we can all identify with.
I love that Paul uses this example as a teachable moment. He asks his readers to recall when they first met. Paul calls to mind their memory of the trouble he and his friends had had in Philippi immediately before coming to Thessalonica. Rather than be “gun-shy” and avoid doing the work God had called them to do out of fear, they boldly preached. To explain how it played out, Paul said, “Yet our God gave us the courage to declare his Good News to you boldly, in spite of great opposition.”
God gave. God supplied them with what they needed to accomplish his work on earth. God is in the business of equipping us for ministry. Sometimes we let our own limitations keep us from doing what God asks us to do. Sometimes we’re worried about what people will think or wonder how they will react. What would Paul say to those of us caught in the pattern of inaction? “Our purpose is to please God, not people.” Bam!
This is underlined in my Bible. I love when I come upon verses that I have spoken to me before. It’s speaking VOLUMES to me, today, as well. I even put sticky notes to myself on this page. I’ll be transparent and share them with you. I wrote, “Be who God wants you to be and not what others want to see. Live to please God, not people. No matter how hard you try to be good, other people will always see your flaws. Remind yourself you live to please God, and he will give you peace.” God knows our hearts.
Paul speaks of the attitude they presented. They didn’t waltz in to town and act all high and mighty, try to bribe or flatter people into believing. Their agenda was clear. As apostles of Christ, they had a message to share. That agenda is still our agenda, isn’t it? Sometimes we get off track and get caught up in the details of life. Earning an income, paying bills, keeping busy with chores are all things we have placed importance in to survive. (Remember those brains of ours and how they want to keep us safe.)
What are your priorities? Who are you trying please? A boss, a spouse, your children, a neighbor? Thinking about where God fits into that list may make us a little uncomfortable. Listen for God’s voice. He’ll reveal to you how he wants you to make a difference.
Let’s pray … Lord, help me overcome my propensity to want to please others. I want to please only you. Help me discern your voice and your call on my life. Your Word is clear, and I pray you’ll give me courage, too, to share your message with others. Take away my fear of approval so that I can be a true warrior for your truth. In Jesus’ name. Amen.