May the peace and mercy of God be with you. Role models. Oh that we could use some role models. Whether we attribute it to modern-day living, or to a more sinister cause such as the fact that the Spirit of the Anti-Christ is already at work, it is hard to argue that today, we hardly know people well-enough for them to serve as role models for us, or for us to serve as such for them.
Yet, it is by this Role Model template that the Holy Spirit of God moved in spectacular fashion in the early church, converting people by the masses and keeping them on the walk of faith. Consider the following text, in a letter that Paul, Silvanus and Timothy wrote to the Church members of Thessalonica.
1 Thessalonians 2: 1-12 – 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. For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. 10 You are witnesses, and God also, how holy and righteous and blameless was our conduct toward you believers. 11 For you know how, like a father with his children, 12 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.
They reminded the church members of the lifestyle they themselves had when there were among them. Earlier in 1 Thessalonians 1:6, we learn that those members once converted, became followers of Paul, Silvanus and Timothy. Here, we read the details of how those three gentlemen preached the word to them. Their preaching were not just words, but a combination of words and a lifestyle that aligned with those words.
How effective do you suppose is this form of preaching, where those you preach not only hear you, but can also see you in action, and acquaint themselves with the practical aspects of your preaching?
For you yourselves know that…
… we never came with words of flattery
… we did not seek glory from people, whether from you or from others
… we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children
… we were ready to share with you our own selves
… we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you WHILE we proclaimed to you the gospel
… You are witnesses how holy and righteous and blameless was our conduct toward you
… 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
The Thessalonians knew that all those things were true because they witnessed it. Paul, Sylvanus and Timothy lived right among them, providing the Thessalonians with the most effective demonstration and blueprint for what the Christians life looks like. This is in fact, effective preaching.
To the Corinthians, Paul says something similar
1 Corinthians 2:2,3 – …I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, 4 and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power
He says…“I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling”. I submit to you that the Corinthians also saw how Paul handled himself and exercised his faith in those moments, thereby providing them with powerful practical lessons that they could rely on. The ultimate purpose being…
1 Corinthians 2:4 – …so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
We have to do a better job as being present for each other, that all may see how practically we walk in the Spirit. Much preaching without concrete evidence will only go so far, for the Spirit of God is a Spirit of Actions!
Do you consider yourself a faithful Christian – not a perfect one of course – then to whom do you evidently display yourself, so they may see you, know you, and learn from you?
Are you a great preacher? Do the people you preach – at least those who live in your city – know you just as much for your preaching as for your lifestyle? Or are the people left to suppose what that lifestyle may be?
We are indeed starving for role models. But it need not stay this way.
After all, wasn’t this the commandment of Christ…
Matthew 5:16 – Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
Paul, Sylvanus and Timothy showed us how exactly we ought to do it. Let us follow them.
In the name of Jesus, our LORD.