In my career, I had numerous bosses who thought that I could not do the job or develop in my skill-set. Instead of building me up, they deliberately removed me from meetings or projects, where I could excel. Therefore, I decided to establish great relationships with co-workers and other project managers. I wanted them to determine my worth and then report it back to my boss. I wanted to be built up and known for the great worker that I am. Therefore, my actions confirmed my worthiness by gaining witnesses for my character.
On the contrary, when I read 1 Thess 2:1 – 16, I notice Paul gathering witnesses to reflect the worthiness of the Gospel. He wanted approval from God versus men. In chapter 1, Paul encourages the believers in Thessalonica. He encouraged them by placing emphasis on the power of the gospel in their lives. Despite his gratitude for their faith, Paul reveals that they endured hardships for the sake of the Gospel. They were forced to defend themselves against criticism outside the congregation. As he defends their actions, Paul argues that they are worthy missionaries.
To establish their worthiness as missionaries and ambassadors of the gospel, they required witnesses. In 1 Thess 2: 5, Paul states that God is their witness for their behavior. He reveals that their actions have been approved by God. He continues to state that they please God and not men. Paul does not stop in establishing his witnesses. In verse 10, he indicates that the Thessalonians bear witness to their actions as missionaries. Paul’s statements about God being their witness differs than from Thessalonians. For God, Paul declares approval and trustworthiness similar to Jesus confirmation on the mountain with Peter, James, and John (Matthew 17:1 – 8). For the Thessalonians, he constantly reminds them that they witnessed their behavior. He uses the term, “as you know” to place emphasis on them as witnesses.
Paul had a goal when defending their missionary actions. These actions ultimately “strive to please, accommodate (serve) God” versus man. The outcome of pleasing God, allows them to “give (a part of), impart, share” the gospel and their lives on the Thessalonians. As Paul imparts the gospel, he continually encourages the Thessalonians to remain faithful to the gospel. In turn, the gospel “works, be at work, operates, be effective ” upon in Thessalonians. Therefore, as Paul proves their missionary actions in proclaiming the gospel, the gospel continues to do the work to which Paul labors.
My attempts to prove myself worthy pales in comparison to Paul’s attempts to be proven worthy. His attempts were focused on the Gospel and strengthen others in the Gospel. My attempts were to strengthen my perspective of myself. As I mature in my walk with God, I am constantly challenged to bear witness for the Gospel. When I focus on God and the Gospel, I no longer find myself feeling unworthy around people. Instead, I transform my actions and mind to see the bigger picture. Our call is to allow the Gospel and God to create our worthiness.
Author: Kemir Baker