The apostle Paul very much saw himself as ‘entrusted with the Good News’, i.e. the gospel. His life had been sold out to that cause since his Damascus road encounter with the risen Jesus. Having thrown away his life as a Pharisee, he could tell the Philippians ‘I suffered the loss of all things, and count them nothing… that I may gain Christ… the righteousness which is from God by faith’(Philippians 3:8-9), i.e. this gospel. His attitude had become that ‘to live is Christ, and to die is gain’(Philippians 1:21). So he focused on the gospel message of ‘Jesus Christ, and him crucified’(1 Corinthians 2:2) who ‘died for our sins… was buried… was raised on the third day’(1 Corinthians 15:3-4). For Paul this good news that he’d been entrusted with eclipsed everything. That’s what Jesus said it would be like, ‘“like… treasure hidden in the field, which a man found… sells all that he has, and buys that field”’(Matthew 13:44).
All of us whose eyes catch a glint of this treasure, the ‘light of the Good News… the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ’(2 Corinthians 4:4-6) then ‘have this treasure in clay vessels’(2 Corinthians 4:7), i.e. we’re like mere earthenware pots entrusted with this glorious gift treasured within. As such, like Paul, we should ‘speak’ of this priceless treasure we carry, seeing ourselves as ‘ambassadors… of Christ’(2 Corinthians 5:20). These precious truths from God should become like ‘burning fire’(Jeremiah 20:9) in our bones, as with Jeremiah, impossible to hold in. All believers, not just apostles and prophets, should feel this obligation to wisely employ our opportunities to share it, ‘with grace, seasoned with salt’(Colossians 4:6) so that we’re always ‘ready to give an answer to everyone who asks… a reason concerning the hope that is in’(1 Peter 3:15) us – implying that we should in some way be displaying that hope. Moreover, we’re to venture out with this message too, fitting our ‘feet with… the Good News of peace’(Ephesians 6:15), aware that ‘beautiful… are the feet of him who brings good news… peace… salvation’(Isaiah 52:7).
That might seem daunting, but just as the beauty is in the treasure, so the power. The message is alive with the power of God, just as it first emerged from the mouth of Him who gave it: ‘“The words that I speak to you are spirit, and are life”’(John 6:63). It’s ‘living, and active’(Hebrews 4:12). We simply have to convey it, like Paul, then all who are ‘appointed to eternal life’(Acts 13:48) will respond, as he’d found with the Thessalonians: ‘our Good News came to you not in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit, and with much assurance’(1 Thessalonians 1:5).
Those whose eyes God opens will receive it with the ‘joy of the Holy Spirit’(1 Thessalonians 1:6). We don’t need to twist these truths ‘as pleasing men’, which should never be our aim. Our focus should be on pleasing ‘God, who tests our hearts’, by faithfully delivering His message, trusting and believing in its inherent beauty and power. True we must meet people where they’re at, including with Christ-like humility: ‘To the weak I became as weak, that I might gain the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I may by all means save some’(1 Corinthians 9:22), but we must never use ‘flattery’(1 Thessalonians 2:5) or ‘deception’(1 Thessalonians 2:3) etc., to sugar coat the message or butter up our hearers.
Special care is needed to please God rather than men when Christian ministry is funded. Here Paul was keen to self-fund by ‘working’(1 Thessalonians 2:9), although sometimes he received support from ‘assemblies’(2 Corinthians 11:8). Whatever the mechanism, funded ministers must not pander to the ‘itching ears’(2 Timothy 4:3) of congregations, or become obedient to corrupt religious authorities, but rather be willing to suffer this ‘loss of all things’(Philippians 3:8) in faithfulness to the message entrusted to them, pleasing and obeying ‘“God rather than men”’(Acts 5:29).
Finally, our whole lives should be lived with an eye to pleasing God not men. The ‘fragrance’(Ephesians 5:2) of such lives will then enhance our message in a right way too, such that we become ‘a sweet aroma of Christ to God, in those who are saved, and in those who perish; to the one a stench from death to death; to the other a sweet aroma from life to life’(2 Corinthians 2:15-16). Like Paul we should be keen to live ‘holy, righteously, and blamelessly’(1 Thessalonians 2:10), winsomely.
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