Preacher’s Motives 1Thess 2:1-12


In this article, I want to look at the preacher’s motives, what they should be in the light of the Bible, and also look at what they are not to be. The principal passage we will be looking at in 1Thessalonians 2.

This is the first article in a series of articles on money and the minister. See Tag:

1Thess 2:1 For yourselves, brethren, know our entrance in unto you, that it was not in vain:

There is a sincere “entrance” with the gospel into people and a “vain” entering in. The vain entering in has some other motives and purpose than that which God has established. Paul identifies his entrance into the Thessalonian church as being valid, not vain.

1Thess 2:2 But 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. 1Thess 2:3 For our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile: 1Thess 2:4 But 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 trieth our hearts.

The Ministry is done because of God, not man

Paul’s ministry was not always “well received”. At times, he was abused by unbelievers, and at others by God’s own people, the carnal ones. Neither case caused Paul to soften his message or come short on what he could and would do. The motive behind Paul’s work was a relationship with God that had as a given that the ministry is not easy, and opposition to everything good Paul was trying to do would be opposed by Satan anyway Satan could do it. Paul’s ministry was characterized by boldness. But today we

God’s Man is never ashamed of the Gospel he proclaims

Paul’s ministry was characterized by boldness. But today we have ministers that show great boldness, but not in challenging and denouncing sin, but in provoking others to give to their miraculous ministry. Although Paul probably had the ability to do miracles, we never seem to see any mention of that as a “selling point” for Paul’s people to support him. His miracles are forgotten as soon as they are done, and his glory badges were the saved in Jesus Christ, the truly saved, and those organized into local churches, each doing the work of God in their area and around the world.

The Truthful Methodology of the Man of God

In 1Th 2:3, Paul lists off three incorrect methods which he never used.

Deceit. – This word speaks of getting off track, wandering away from the path. The implication is that our situation is not a field a mile wide and we can wander back and forth wherever we want to eventually get to the other side. It is a narrow path, and we do not have the luxury of getting off track.

Deceit = G4106 – πλάνη (Mickelson)
G4106 πλάνη plane (plan’-ay) n.
1. (properly) a straying or wandering from the straight path (i.e. a deviation, an error, a bending)
2. (objectively) fraudulence
3. (subjectively) a straying from orthodoxy or piety

Two things here. First is that some bad ministers will use their position to push incorrect things in order to benefit themselves or advance their own agenda. This is a classic in dealing with false prophets. They use the pulpit to weave a control over people so that they are just pawns in fulfilling that preacher’s dreams. Usually, these kinds of preachers have great and glorious dreams of fame and splendor for their own selves, and not really pushing the work of God. You can see this when their ministries touch other ministries, and instead of being a humble servant, they depreciate these other ministries and ministers. The idea rings true, I get higher by stepping on those around me.

The second idea here is simply a good-hearted pastor, home folk kind of person, that just cannot grasp the essentials of his mission. As such, he wanders from topic to topic, and somehow his people are supposed to make sense out of this wandering and grasp the essentials of what their mission is supposed to be, even though he cannot figure it out for himself, much less other people. These pastors will constantly sidetrack and go down rabbit trails, and these rabbit trails (ramblings of things so vaguely distant from what his message is that no real connection can be made with the proposed title of his sermon except it was preached on the same day). Although this may seem irritating but not wrong, it is very wrong. What doesn’t forcefully help God’s people go forward is a detraction and obstacle they must climb over to get anything done for Christ.

Uncleanness. – Paul identifies this improper motive of some ministers. I think the idea here is very simply sexual impurity. Some preachers seem to use their position of service to other people to first take sexual advantage of certain ones that are to their liking, and then to abuse them sexually.

uncleanness = G167 – ἀκαθαρσία (Mickelson)
G167 ἀκαθαρσία akatharsia (ak-ath-ar-see’-ah) n.
1. impurity (the quality) {physically or morally}

What is wrong here is that this kind of Pastor thinks that he is in charge over Lambs, so he can eat lamb chops every night. News flash! Shepherds don’t each sheep meat usually. The residual income they get from their charge is wool and milk, not killing the sheep and eating them. The concept is just wrong. You do not have the right to take advantage of God’s children because you are in charge of them. Some people do this.

Beyond the sexual aspect of this, some pastors like to just take advantage of their people in other ways. Not necessarily sexual abuse, but the use of their people for their own personal service. Yes, church members should respect and esteem their pastor. But a good man of God is not going to let that get out of control and begin favortism or a culture of “angel worship”

Col 2:18 Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,

The word “angel” in the Bible means messenger, and it is purely a translator’s decision whether to translate it “angel” (spiritual messenger) or “messenger” (earthly messenger). But there is a real threat of God’s people turning the spokesman of God ministering to them into an object of adoration and exaltation. I have seen pastors that seem to create and thrive on this kind of attention. I talked to a Hyles-Anderson graduate one time that told me that Jack Hyles liked to meet in the auditorium after supper and would go on stage and a bunch of girls would gather at the foot of the stage, and he would throw himself off the stage into their arms. I see nothing good in that at all. As a minister of God, that would happen to me only if I were dead (God forbid). As a minister, we must reject glorifying the messenger over the message and our dear Lord who sent the message.

Guile. – The idea behind this word is that of something highly desirous that is used to trick somebody else into a place of perdition or loss (or being taken advantage of). The word focuses on the craft necessary to deceive using something that appears as something that it is not in reality.

GuileGuile=G1388 – δόλος (Mickelson) G1388 δόλος dolos (dol’-os) n.
1. a trick (bait)
2. (figuratively) wile
[from an obsolete primary verb, dello (probably meaning to decoy)]
KJV: craft, deceit, guile, subtilty

In this incorrect motive of a minister, we see the crassness of the preacher who uses fair speech in order to lay a trap for their people. I have seen logical gymnastics in services that are just totally a sham. So often the Pastor berates his people for not sacrificing enough when he and his family live in luxury and are not an example of what he is demanding of others. The bottom line here is that a person full of guile is somebody who has no morals or scruples when it comes to how he treats other people. He treats them however he wants to get whatever he wants.

In most churches with these kinds of pastors, there are always unjust events, and the pastor has a regular system active, prepared, and in full force. This “system” centers on not looking at the man but God, no gossip, no complaining, no dealing with injustices within the very church. The system handles the problems to sweep them under the rug (until the next injustice happens). Rather than publicly examining the issue and rebuking sin wherever it is found, changing to make wrong things right, this system simply hides and quiets the problems, which return.

“God which trieth our hearts”

I think that it is all too easy for preachers to forget that they will give an answer for their own words and deeds one day, and it is so easy for congregations to forget that the wheels of God’s justice turn slow, but turn surely they do. God doesn’t leave these kinds of problems up to just the congregation “to fix.” God also works behind the scenes. Evil working in the ministry destroys whatever ministry where it is employed. The very evilness of the methodology that these bad pastors use is exactly what will destroy them in the end.

One of the key things for a member of a congregation is to simply demand that their pastor and that their church is blameless. When things happen, the church and the pastor cannot stand with just “making things right”, they have to go one step beyond. That means they must be more generous towards those hurt or that suffer the injustice, and they must push their requirements and protections so that the same thing will not happen again.

1Thess 2:5 For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloke of covetousness; God is witness: 1Thess 2:6 Nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ.

No Deception, No Covetousness

It is hard to be balanced most of the time, but here is a case where we must insist on being balanced. We cannot go overboard in shunning covetousness to the point where we give our ministerial workers less than a fair and just salary. Worse yet we cannot ask them to labor in a secular job and give their time and energy to God without remuneration. This breaks God’s rules on the other side of things.

But we must denounce covetousness. Covetousness is seen in two ways: (1) By what a person desires, (2) by what is the “apple of one’s eye”, what he enjoys.

Covetousness is unbridled desiring

God sees covetousness as the desires (carnal desires) of one’s heart going wild. This is idolatry that eventually takes over a person’s life, and guides all things into that person worshipping covetousness. The basis of this is a foundational misunderstanding in the person’s thinking, that values the temporal and worldly more than the spiritual and eternal.

When enjoying life here is more important than serving God and receiving whatever rewards in eternity, then you are covetous. So many Christians worship things and the earthly that it is sad to see the rejection by these people when you speak to this issue. I have seen people “fall asleep” when talking about this, and distracting the conversation, or even just exploding in anger when there was no cause. But you do not step on other people’s idols without them getting upset.

It is instructive to define a godly pastor as one who leaves the earthly to others in the church, and he focuses on the spiritual. Too many pastors are micro managers when it comes to finances. Either that, or they put somebody in as a financial manager, and that means I can spend all the money I want to on anything I want, and you come up with ways to pay for it all.

Covetousness is setting goals on the carnal instead of the spiritual

The outlook, goals, and objectives of the ministry are easily seen as defining the people making those goals as being spiritual or carnal. When everything can be reduced to physical things, we need to have an income of X amount of dollars this year, we need to pay for that building, etc. then things are on a carnal basis.

When our goals are spiritual, many times we need money to accomplish those goals. But the goal is not the money, but the spiritual achievement behind that. For example, a big church can simply set a goal of increasing its attendance by 10% this year. If you go after the down and out people, you can grow by double that. But they don’t because they want 10% growth of rich people who will increase their church income.

1Thess 2:7 But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children: 1Thess 2:8 So 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.

Brutal versus Gentle

Another good discernment point is to understand that a good minister of God will treat his charge as they are precious sheep of his master. Therefore he cannot be abusive with them. Being brutal and cruel is a mark of a false prophet. They often are like that.

A man of God is courteous, gentle, meek, and humble among other qualities. These qualities coalesce into making him the image of Christ. His manner of dealing with and treating people has a distinctive quality about it that shines Christ through him.

Rough men in the ministry, dealing with others without a second thought about how their actions and words will sting and hurt others is a matter of concern. While every man of God will be rough with sin, they will also be kind and tender with sinners.

1Thess 2:9 For ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail: for labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God.

Paul’s group practiced a thing among the churches where they labored in that they had a biblical right to be supported economically, but they wanted their burden to be as light as possible on these people as they could make it.

1Thess 2:10 Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe:

Here we have another list of good qualities of a good man of God.

A Good Minister shows Holy Piousness

Holily – G3743 ὁσίως hosios adv.
1. piously [adverb from G3741]

To be holy is to be set apart, and in essence, it means to have the same character and personality as God. This is what is at its heart. When we see our minister, do we see Jesus Christ or a carnal man? In some circles, people, Christian people, actually make fun of “holy joes”. The living of a life set apart for God is made fun of. When this attitude is espoused from the pulpit, get out of that church.

A Good Minister shows a Just Life

Justly – G1346 δικαίως dikaios adv.
1. equitably [adverb from G1342]

This idea is that the person does not arbitrarily makes favorites or turn against people. He is equitable, or just, or balanced. It took me a long time as being a pastor to finally realize, that according to God’s Word, the people in my church are not my friends, nor are they my enemies. I cannot stick them in one or the other “placeholders”. They are my charge, and as much those I personally dislike, as those that would be my best friends, I have to refrain from dealing with them “inordinately”. The courtesies that I extend to my “best friends” I have to do to my “worst enemies”. My dealing has to be metered by what God sees as right and just.

I don’t let people who damage the work of God have free access to run things and do it again or continue doing it. I am the protector of God’s flock, of God’s work in my corner of the world. But I must live the image of God through my actions, deeds, and speech. (Also through my attitude.)

A Good Minister has a blameless life

Unblameably – G274 ἀμέμπτως amemptos adv.
1. faultlessly [adverb from G273]

There is a difference between blameless, and never getting accused. Good people get accused by imbalanced people that have no legitimate charge, so they just make up fiction and accuse their opponent of false things that have no basis. So in this, the good man of God has no legitimate accusations sticking to him. When a pastor goes out soul-winning as a regular way of life or practices a strong prayer life, accusations that he isn’t a soul-winner or a good prayer warrior are deflected. While they are accusations, the people hear these accusations, and they remember seeing him regularly on Saturday soul-winning actually going out with this one and then that one. Also when they remember hearing him pray and exhort others to prayer, these accusations are quickly despatched as baseless. They CANNOT BE TRUE from the facts I have personally observed. This is being blameless.

This is being blameless. No legitimate accusations hold true to the person. Also when a man of God is charged with something, he denounces that accusation and takes actions to make sure his testimony is sure and true to the good qualities of Christ.

I have seen many a Calvinist Pastor that would not get excited or involved in evangelism. Their interpretation of “soul-winning” is that it is a sinful, unbiblical concept. They do not present the gospel to others in any consistent, regular, energetic way. They only want to share the doctrines of Calvinism to people that are already saved, and to them, this is the sum total of their thoughts on biblical evangelism. They try to get people already saved into their way of thinking.

But level a charge of not pushing evangelism to these people, and they won’t organize a month of going out every week, they push it off as being an accusation from somebody “who doesn’t understand the divine mysteries as we do”, i.e. the old mystery religions coming to the forefront again. Their “spiritual mysteries” that they understand make them a “cut above” everybody else.

Blamelessness means that you live the life of Christ, and while you are not perfect yet, but you are striving to be like Christ. Where things come to the light, you work especially hard on them.

1Thess 2:11 As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children, 1Thess 2:12 That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory.

Again Paul returns to the way he treated his charge, as a father with his children, kindly. The true motive of a minister can be seen by his responses and attitude in dealing with his people.

Mutch History of Premillennialism
is a compilation of papers at a Second Coming Conference in 1885 at a camp meeting in Niagra Indiana. These paper present the thinking and verses supporting an imminent Second Coming in the air, premillennial coming of Christ. Download: Mutch History of Premillennialism

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