For we speak as messengers approved by God to be entrusted with the Good News. Our purpose is to please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of our hearts. 1 Thessalonians 2:4
My brother and his little boy Owen are best friends. Their relationship is so sweet to watch. One thing that I have noticed about their relationship is that Owen values his dad’s opinion more than just about anything. Because of that, he does not care what anyone else thinks about him except for his dad. As Owen grows up, he will undoubtedly begin considering other people’s opinions, for better or worse, but I have been thinking about how he looks up to his dad. What if we valued the opinion of our Heavenly Father so much that it did not matter what anyone else thought about us except for what He thinks about us? This kind of thinking makes all the difference.
Paul made it clear in the New Testament that he understood his identity. He knew he belonged to Christ, and because of that, it did not matter what anyone else thought about him. He wrote about this in 1 Thessalonians 2. Here is what he said: “For we speak as messengers approved by God to be entrusted with the Good News. Our purpose is to please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of our hearts” (verse 4). What stands out to me in this verse is that Paul knew what his purpose was: to please God, not people. Clearly, it did not matter to him what others thought about Him as long as God was pleased. Paul only cared about God’s opinion, and he shared why. “He alone examines the motives of our hearts,” Paul said (verse 4). God is the one who sees our motives and sees our hearts. He created us, He knows us fully and intimately, and His opinion is what matters most.
Now, it is one thing to say we only care what God thinks about us. But, it is a completely different thing to live it out. It’s not easy, but if we truly believe that God establishes our identity, we will live like it is true. So, let’s follow Paul’s example and live solely for God.
Today’s Bible study calls us to ask ourselves: Whose approval are we living for? Are we living for God’s approval or someone else’s? Take some time to answer these questions. If your answer is someone else’s, ask yourself, “Why?” Commit today to remember that God is your Creator, your Heavenly Father, and the One who sees our hearts and motives. Commit today to live for Him and Him alone.
1 Thessalonians 2:1-20 (NLT)
You yourselves know, dear brothers and sisters, that our visit to you was not a failure. 2 You know how badly we had been treated at Philippi just before we came to you and how much we suffered there. Yet our God gave us the courage to declare his Good News to you boldly, in spite of great opposition. 3 So you can see we were not preaching with any deceit or impure motives or trickery.
4 For we speak as messengers approved by God to be entrusted with the Good News. Our purpose is to please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of our hearts. 5 Never once did we try to win you with flattery, as you well know. And God is our witness that we were not pretending to be your friends just to get your money! 6 As for human praise, we have never sought it from you or anyone else.
7 As apostles of Christ we certainly had a right to make some demands of you, but instead we were like children among you. Or we were like a mother feeding and caring for her own children. 8 We loved you so much that we shared with you not only God’s Good News but our own lives, too.
9 Don’t you remember, dear brothers and sisters, how hard we worked among you? Night and day we toiled to earn a living so that we would not be a burden to any of you as we preached God’s Good News to you. 10 You yourselves are our witnesses—and so is God—that we were devout and honest and faultless toward all of you believers. 11 And you know that we treated each of you as a father treats his own children. 12 We pleaded with you, encouraged you, and urged you to live your lives in a way that God would consider worthy. For he called you to share in his Kingdom and glory.
13 Therefore, we never stop thanking God that when you received his message from us, you didn’t think of our words as mere human ideas. You accepted what we said as the very word of God—which, of course, it is. And this word continues to work in you who believe.
14 And then, dear brothers and sisters, you suffered persecution from your own countrymen. In this way, you imitated the believers in God’s churches in Judea who, because of their belief in Christ Jesus, suffered from their own people, the Jews. 15 For some of the Jews killed the prophets, and some even killed the Lord Jesus. Now they have persecuted us, too. They fail to please God and work against all humanity 16 as they try to keep us from preaching the Good News of salvation to the Gentiles. By doing this, they continue to pile up their sins. But the anger of God has caught up with them at last.
17 Dear brothers and sisters, after we were separated from you for a little while (though our hearts never left you), we tried very hard to come back because of our intense longing to see you again. 18 We wanted very much to come to you, and I, Paul, tried again and again, but Satan prevented us. 19 After all, what gives us hope and joy, and what will be our proud reward and crown as we stand before our Lord Jesus when he returns? It is you! 20 Yes, you are our pride and joy.
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