God tested us thoroughly to make sure we were qualified to be trusted with this Message. Be assured that when we speak to you we’re not after crowd approval—only God approval. Since we’ve been put through that battery of tests, you’re guaranteed that both we and the Message are free of error, mixed motives, or hidden agendas. We never used words to butter you up. No one knows that better than you. And God knows we never used words as a smoke screen… to take advantage of you. Even though we had some standing as Christ’s apostles, we never threw our weight around or tried to come across as important, with you or anyone else. We weren’t aloof with you. We took you just as you were. We were never patronizing, never condescending, but we cared for you the way a mother cares for her children. We loved you dearly. Not content to just pass on the Message, we wanted to give you our hearts. And we did. (1 Thes 2:5-8. MSG)
But Paul, where’s the big mansion, the limousine, and the airplane? Surely you should have stipulated a five-star hotel when you arrived in down? No, that’s today’s standards, not God’s and not Paul’s. Somehow, we have allowed the standards of worldly success to be the measure by which we judge the gospel messenger. In this text Paul gives us a checklist for the God approved minister:
1. God tested—trials and tribulations go hand in hand with the position.
2. Straight talk—strive to understand God’s Word thoroughly. Don’t misquote, take it out of context or to make it prove your own agenda. Trying to make out that you have some hidden, secret revelation is nothing more than occult.
3. Don’t think of yourself more highly than you should. That title is a poor substitute for care, compassion, and love. If you cannot sit side by side with a homeless person, understand what it’s like to work a real job, as well as preach from the pulpit, then you’re a phony. All show on the outside, no substance on the inside.
4. Paul did just deliver the message; that’s the postman or courier. He gave his heart.
Now don’t use this checklist on anyone else until you first use it on yourself. Be the real deal.