Teaching series from 1 Thessalonians

Profile of a Spiritual Catalyst

1 Thessalonians 2:1-13

Teaching t08684

Brief review of SETTING. Chapter 1 focuses on the Thessalonians—how they responded to the gospel and then spread it to others. Now Paul's focus shifts (read 2:1-12).

In this long passage, Paul details the good points of himself and his companions. Isn't this boasting, self-congratulatory? Why is Paul doing this?

Primarily, because the Jews who ran him out of Thessalonica were evidently still trying to undermine him by slandering him. Therefore, Paul is put in the uncomfortable position (as he often was) of having to defend himself for their good. Because if they mistrust Paul, they will move away from his message . . . (EXAMPLES?)

So we can look at this passage as a description of what characterizes authentic Christian leaders vs. cult leaders and other spiritual fakes.

On another level, we can see this passage as an explanation of why Paul had such profound spiritual impact on people (2:1 - “our visit was extraordinarily fruitful”). He discloses the key ingredients of spiritually impact that they/we can cultivate as spiritual leaders at home, work—and especially in the church (all of us should become leaders in this sense). I see X such ingredients . . .

Depend on God's Word to transform people

The first thing I notice is Paul's dependence on God's Word to transform people. Re-read relevant portions of 2: 2, 4, 8-9. He puts a point on this in 2:13 (read). Paul was under no illusion that his ideas or some human philosophy (or his personality or force of will) could change people. He was entrusted with God's good news about Jesus Christ, and that is what he focused on.

He reminds them in 2:3 that his message was free from “error” (self-deception), “impurity” (mixtures from other sources?) and “deceit” (purposeful twisting).

This is one of the ways we can distinguish between authentic Christian leaders and fakes. Do they:

  • Note emphasis on this (2: 2, 4, 8-9, and especially 2:13)
  • Why he knew it vs. being “in error”
  • Why he laid it out as it was vs. “deceit” (see also 2 Tim. 4: 2-3; Acts 20: 20,27; UNPOPULAR DOCTRINES: hell; anti-materialism; exclusivism)

Please God instead of people

  • This is the ultimate motivation, which explains why he was unwavering on the truth
  • Secure in God's grace, he doesn't need people's approval or acceptance
  • Convinced of the BEMA, he carried out his stewardship

Invest personally, relationally, and sacrificially in people

Not just a lecturer/scholar/theologian—he loved being with people, spending time with them, engaging them personally, sharing his life with them (“speaking the truth in love”). Truth and values are most effectively transmitted through close relationships.

“People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care” - This is corny, but it's true.

Ask God to give you this heart for people! Invest by faith in people, and God will give you a fond affection for them (OBSERVING PARENTS WITH THEIR KIDS >> MY OWN; ME WITH PAULEY).

Lead by moral example and exhortation

It's when you are invested as per above that people can see your example, and when your exhortation has moral authority.

But having invested and set an example, be willing to call on people to live up to their calling—call them beyond selfishness to live for Christ and fulfill his calling on their lives and be a good representative for him!

Copyright 2000 Gary DeLashmutt