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June 25, 2010

Building Strong Friendships in Christ

No Glory from Men Today

“nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others, even though as apostles of Christ we might have asserted our authority.”

1 Thessalonians 2:6 Page 1846        

        Have you ever seen people seeking their own glory?  They dress a certain way, they wear their hair a certain way, they talk a certain way, and they have just the right friends.  If you look around today, you will see people all around you seeking their own glory.  They do so many things to gain glory from men.  I am not saying that taking care with clothes, hair, speech, and friendships is automatically wrong.  I am saying that seeking your own glory will pose a problem.  Consider your list of activities planned for today.  Anything on the list that just leaps out as you as aimed at your own glory?  No? Well, to see if you are actually seeking your own glory may require a little help from Paul.

       Paul linked seeking glory with exercising authority.  When you throw your own weight around, and draw attention to yourself, you can be sure that you are seeking your own glory.  Paul says avoid doing anything that seeks your own glory.   Paul continues his theme about how the ministry team came to Thessalonica, and how they exhorted them, even after suffering persecution, without error impurity, or deceit.   They did not seek to please men, but only God.  They never flattered men, or did anything  as a pretext for greed.  Now, Paul explains the ministry team did not seek glory from the Thessalonians or from others.

       Have you ever considered the authority of the apostles?  Paul had obvious financial authority to seek financial aid from the Thessalonians, as he did from other churches (1 Corinthians 9:3-18, page 1791-1792, Acts 11:27-39).    Paul performed many signs and wonders and miracles at Iconium (Acts 14:1-4, page 1727), and Corinth (2 Corinthians 12:12), and apparently throughout his preaching from Jerusalem round about as far as Illyricum (Romans 15:18-19, page 1779).   Even the handkerchiefs and aprons worn by Paul were carried to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out (Acts 19:11-12, Page 1737-1738).    Paul directly demonstrated great power over demons (e.g., Acts 16:16-19), and even a bite from a viper had no effect upon him (Acts 28:3-6, page 1756).  In Malta, people from all over the island came to Paul and he cured them of their diseases (Acts 28:7-10, page 1756).  Paul not only spoke the revelation of Jesus Christ, but the power of the Holy Spirit confirmed the message with signs, wonders, and miracles.   Yet, Paul and the ministry team did not assert their authority.  They did not impose their apostolic authority, because they were not seeking their own glory.

       One note in passing concerning “apostles.”  In 1 Thessalonians 2:6, Paul refers to “apostles” plural.  We see here that the term includes both Paul and Silvanus (perhaps another name for “Silas”), and perhaps Timothy.  The New Testament speaks of “apostles” as a spiritual gift (Ephesians 4:11, pages 1830-1831), but also a special group of men who spent time with Jesus (1 Corinthians 12:11-13, page 1817).

So, we learn some more about building strong friendships in Christ.

      ●   Strong bonds of friendship form when we do not seek our own glory.  Notice how Paul keeps using the term “we” to describe how the ministry team acted as apostles and shared the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  When “we” act together, we build those strong bonds of friendship.

     ●   Strong bonds of friendship grow when we do not exercise our authority to enhance our personal positions.  We want God alone to get all the glory, because we serve at His pleasure constantly.

   ●   We harm our bonds of friendship when we seek our own glory and exercise our authority to make us look bigger.  Every employer, parent, friend and spouse should be very careful about avoiding the ungodly use of power to glorify yourself, and not the Master and His mission.

Application for Today

        Today, I want will avoid seeking glory from men.  I will not use any authority to build my glory, but rather always focus upon Jesus getting all the glory, because He alone deserves it.  Whose glory will you seek today?


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