Change Occurs When…

1 Thess. 2:1 For you yourselves know, brothers, [1] that our coming to you was not in vain. 2 But though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict. 3 For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive, 4 but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts. 5 For we never came with words of flattery, [2] as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness. 6 Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others, though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ. 7 But we were gentle [3] among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. 8 So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.

9 For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. 10 You are witnesses, and God also, how holy and righteous and blameless was our conduct toward you believers. 11 For you know how, like a father with his children, 12 we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.

13 And we also thank God constantly [4] for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers. 14 For you, brothers, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea. For you suffered the same things from your own countrymen as they did from the Jews, 15 who killed both the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out, and displease God and oppose all mankind 16 by hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles that they might be saved—so as always to fill up the measure of their sins. But God's wrath has come upon them at last! [5]

This passage of Scripture is simply amazing to me. To be honest it leaves me somewhat in awe. If I was facing questions and malicious accusations like Paul, I would not have worded my defense as He did. I would have been attempting to be eloquent, step carefully, and I would have done a lot of backing down. But, Paul didn’t! He told the Thessalonians exactly what he did, reminding them of everything he did right. He wasn’t being arrogant, he wasn’t boasting. He was simply stating facts. His boldness staggers me. Oh to be like that. To be that confident in God. I constantly give into the fear of man. I’d rather serve quietly in the background and let other people be bold. Confrontation…no thanks. Speaking the truth in love…every once in awhile, but it’s not my preference. Doing things out of my “comfort zone”…um, yeah no! God has been increasingly convicting me of these sins. Often times by putting me in a situation and as I’m squirming, showing me my sin. There has been a lot of fear of man (being consumed with another’s opinion or perceived opinion of me). I have also been giving into fear (instead of trusting God to provide in all things.) I’ve also seen my no-so-nice companions, pride and selfishness. 

What is the difference between Paul and I? (Besides the obvious. I am aware that I’m a girl and he was a guy :)…) It’s a very simple difference. Paul was God-centered, he was God-focused. He was more concerned with loving and pleasing God than anything else. His boldness didn’t come because of his personality or from himself. It came from God. He relied on God to give him the power and grace to do what he had been called to do (Ro. 1:17, 1 Pet. 1:5). Another way to put it, He was a Mary, more than a Martha. He was listening, relying on the Holy Spirit instead of his actions and abilities.

I like to come up with a 5-step checklist. I need to do this, this, and this. Once these things are done, I’ll be different. Fear of man will be gone. Pride will have vanished. But, it doesn’t work that way. This side of heaven, I don’t think I’ll ever completely kill my fear of man. And change will not come to pass through my actions and strivings. Gazing upon my Savior produces the desire to change. Working on my sin, while trusting in Him, will give death blows to my pride. It can’t be done without Him. And when I try to do it on my own, I begin to drown in the waves like Peter.

I’m so grateful for a Savior who picks me up and points me back to Himself. I love that change occurs when I gaze on Him and trust in Him. What a gospel! Change happens by enjoying God. How upside-down (and amazing) is that!!!

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