You are witnesses, and God also, how holy and righteous and blameless was our conduct toward you believers. For you know how, like a father with his children, 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.
There is no doubt that Paul’s life and work changed the world. But what moved him, stirred him, and grounded him?
His first letter to the Thessalonian church gives us wonderful insights into what made Paul tick. He was clearly committed to truth and love—to the truth of God’s word and to a love for God’s people. These two coexisted in and drove forward his ministry. Paul knew that neither can outweigh the other without causing great harm. Truth without love is harsh and can result in a ministry that is motivated by personal gain. Love without truth is rootless and results in a ministry that departs from the gospel.
Paul was not interested in prestige, wealth, or popularity. He simply wanted to see fellow believers “walk in a manner worthy of God.” He longed to see spiritual maturity.
In Paul’s thinking and writing, walking worthy of God means living in the awareness that we have been adopted into God’s kingdom by grace. We can build no other kingdom. We must not strive to establish an empire of our own or of our church or of our ministry, nor focus on success or reputation. More than any attachment to an individual or institution, our greatest concern must be to see in our own lives, and in the lives of men and women around us, a devotion to Jesus Christ—a commitment to holding to His truth and living with His love.
John the Baptist exemplified this humility when he proclaimed of Christ, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). He knew he was simply a servant of the Lord, receiving only what was “given him from heaven” (v 27) and nothing else. The best man at a wedding does not bring attention upon himself or want the bride for himself but rather rejoices in the groom’s joy. In the same way, our great excitement must be in Christ pursuing and winning His bride, the church—whether He uses us in some significant way or not.
As you make decisions, as you respond to setbacks, as you care for others, as you serve in ministry, is your greatest desire simply to “walk in a manner worthy of God”? Is it to be a person of both truth and love? Let it be said of you, as it could be said of Paul, that you loved God’s truth and that you truly loved God’s people.
Devotional material is taken from the Truth For Life daily devotional by Alistair Begg,