I’ve been listening to 1 Thessalonians through 3 John for over a year now as I drive to and from work. This week as I was listening to 1 Thessalonians I was impressed by the qualities of a genuine shepherd of the Lord Jesus Christ which the apostle Paul exhibited towards the Thessalonians. I would like to share those verses from 1 Thessalonians and make brief comments. My heart yearns for such godly leadership within the church. Praise God, I can trust my faithful Shepherd Jesus Christ to lead with His gentleness and love when there fails to be faithful servants of our Lord.
1Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ. 2We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers; 3Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father; 4Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God. 5For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance; as ye know what manner of men we were among you for your sake. 6And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost: 7So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia. 8For from you sounded out the word of the Lord not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith to God-ward is spread abroad; so that we need not to speak any thing.9For they themselves show of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; 10And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come. 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10 Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy preached the gospel of Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit to the Thessalonians and those elect by the Father responded with repentant faith, receiving the Holy Spirit and being filled with much assurance. These gentles shepherds lived exemplary lives to God’s glory and strengthening of the believers’ faith so that they were examples to the other believers in Macedonia and Achaia as they received the truth of God’s Word with much joy, turning away from idolatry, while suffering persecution. Paul, of course, included the return of Jesus Christ in preaching the gospel so the Thessalonians Christians were eagerly waiting for His return. We need men filled with the Holy Spirit preaching the unadulterated Word of God, sharing Christ’s love with the lost, living for Christ’s praise, glory and the strengthening of believers.
The love of Jesus compelled Paul and his companions to so preach and so live that those who were ministered to by these men were genuinely saved and genuinely loved. 1For yourselves, brethren, know our entrance in unto you, that it was not in vain: 2But even after that we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi, we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention. 3For our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile: 4But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which tries our hearts. 5For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloak of covetousness; God is witness: 6Nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ. 7But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherishes her children: 8So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us. 9For ye remember, brethren, our labor and travail: for laboring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God. 10Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe: 11As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children, 12That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory. 13For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually works also in you that believe. 14For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews:…17But we, brethren, being taken from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavored the more abundantly to see your face with great desire. 18Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us. 19For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? 20For ye are our glory and joy. 1 Thessalonians 2: 1-14 and 17-20 Persecution could not persuade these servants of God to curtail their work for Him. These men of God preached the gospel to the Thessalonians motivated only by Christ’s love for them and His love for lost sinners. They had no ulterior motives for preaching the gospel. Men who are blood bought servants of Christ are neither arrogant nor selfish, the love of Christ compels them to be gentle, considerate, tender, genuinely taken with the well-being of those to whom they minister. They love the purchased possession of Christ. They love these individuals for Christ’s sake and for the sake of the beloved. Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy labored diligently for the well-being and growth of these precious believers. So the Thessalonians became followers of the believers in Judea, obeying Paul’s loving exhortation to walk worthy of the gospel of Jesus Christ. And when they were separated from their beloved Thessalonian brothers and sisters they earnestly desired to see them because they were the source of joy and rejoicing due to the work of God in their hearts through belief in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
1Wherefore when we could no longer forbear, we thought it good to be left at Athens alone; 2And sent Timotheus, our brother, and minister of God, and our fellow laborer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith: 3That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto. 4For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know. 5For this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter have tempted you, and our labor be in vain. 6But now when Timotheus came from you unto us, and brought us good tidings of your faith and charity, and that ye have good remembrance of us always, desiring greatly to see us, as we also to see you: 7Therefore, brethren, we were comforted over you in all our affliction and distress by your faith: 8For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord. 9For what thanks can we render to God again for you, for all the joy wherewith we joy for your sakes before our God; 10Night and day praying exceedingly that we might see your face, and might perfect that which is lacking in your faith? 11Now God himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way unto you. 12And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you: 13To the end he may establish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.1 Thessalonians 3:1-13 This sincere love moved Paul to send Timothy to the Thessalonians to establish and comfort them in their faith. Paul was concerned their afflictions, because of the gospel, would shake their faith, but Timothy found them steadfast in their faith longing to see Paul and his fellow laborers. Paul rejoiced that God had protected them from the wiles of the enemy and was thankful to learn of their sincere love for one another. God’s ministers, Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy were so entwined with these believers who were the fruit of their labors that they were enlivened with joy by the good report they received and witnessed. Again they thanked God and prayed for the Thessalonians for their establishment and progress in their faith in Jesus Christ. All along, Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy had been intermediaries for God, ambassadors for God, doing His work, preaching His gospel, sharing His love, and communicating to Him through prayer on behalf of their beloved brethren in Thessalonica.
Dear brethren, these are the true marks of genuine servants of God and the Lord Jesus Christ. These are the God-given qualities that accompany true shepherds of the Living God. Many profess to serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but do not bear fruit worthy of His name and are more concerned with power, possessions, and prestige than they are with Jesus Christ, His sheep and their well-being. If those who profess to be servants of Christ do not have the fruit of the Spirit in their lives, then they do not belong to Christ. If those who profess to be servants of our heavenly Father do not hold fast to His truth, building believers up in their most holy faith and protecting them from error by exposing false teachers, then they should not be followed. Dear beloved of the Lord, those who are charged by God Himself with leading His flock will have sincere love for the brethren and an earnest desire to see souls secure in Christ’s salvation. If they are taken with the latest fad floating around in the church, then be sure they are not the Lord’s servant. If they don’t warn about persecution, trials and difficulties and only speak of smooth things then they are not the Lord’s servants. If they constantly reference themselves and not Jesus Christ and His glorious Word then they are not the Father’s shepherds. If they are fleshly and lack love for Christ’s little flock then they should be avoided. May our glorious Father in heaven bless us with shepherds who are after His own heart and serve Christ to God’s glory and the blessing of His beloved.