Life Group Discussion Guide for 1 Thessalonians 2:1-8
2 For you yourselves know, brothers, 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, 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 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.1 Thessalonians 2:1-8
Christians have one particular weakness that can result in all sorts of sinful results. When we fail to carefully examine our motives in doing good works, we can easily justify wrong behavior by saying that we are “doing the Lord’s work.”
Both the history of the church as well as the stories of our individual lives bear witness to this. Things are done “to glorify God” but in reality, they are primarily motivated to win the praise of man.
Jesus addressed this with the religious actors of his day:
“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.
2 “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”Matthew 6:1-4
The Gospel took hold among the believers in Thessalonica in part because the city could see that the preaching done by Paul and his team was purely motivated. The suffering and exertion they endured in order to preach the Gospel was worth every bit because the end result was that lives were genuinely transformed by the power of God.
- Give an example of a religious act that was proclaimed to be for the glory of God, but was ultimately for the glory of man.
- How can you discern if a preacher was sent by God or sent by the impure motives of man? (! Thessalonians 2:3-4)
- Why is flattery such an effectively dangerous tool used by false teachers today? (! Thessalonians 2:5)
- How can you tell the difference between flattery and genuine encouragement?
- Is the praise of men enough to sustain Godly ministry? (1 Thessalonians 2:6)
- Can you truly share the Gospel without “sharing yourself?” (1 Thess. 2:8)
- From 1 Thessalonians 2:1-8 and Acts 17, what evidence do you have of Paul and his team’s motives for sharing the Gospel in Thessalonica?
- How do people know when you are truly motivated by sacrificial love?
Take time to pray for each other in groups of three or four. Let each person share one way that this passage has challenged them in their faith. Pray specifically for each person to experience the patience of waiting hopefully on Jesus.