For you yourselves know, brothers, that our coming to you was not in vain. 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. For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive, 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. For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness. Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others, though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. 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. – 1 Thessalonians 2:1–8 (ESV)
It can sometimes take a great deal of courage to confess Jesus before men; and this type of courage is necessary if we are to be Christians at all. And, as Paul is making clear, courage is absolutely essential for Christian service. He reminds the Thessalonians:
… [that] 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.
Think about how much courage this took! Paul and Silas followed their standard approach to evangelism in Philippi. They went to the local synagogue and preached the gospel. Controversy and fierce opposition soon followed, which led to the two of them being beaten and thrown into prison. Don’t skip over that too quickly. When was the last time you were beaten with rods and locked up inside a prison? Let’s just say, this is an experience that we would all like to avoid. Yet, once they are released, and they move on to Thessalonica, what do they do? Acts 17:
Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ.”
Getting beaten and thrown in prison for doing the work Jesus had entrusted to him, didn’t change Paul’s behavior in the slightest. He didn’t soften the message. He didn’t change the approach. He simply remained faithful to the LORD’s call upon his life. That takes remarkable courage! Yet, this might be the most important thing for us to grasp about Christian courage: Christian courage is not about working up to some dramatic event in our lives. Christian courage is simply, by the grace of God, simply seeking to be faithful … no matter what!
MEMORY WORK – Shorter Catechism Q/A 107
Q. 107. What doth the conclusion of the Lord’s prayer teach us?
A. The conclusion of the Lord’s prayer, which is, For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever, Amen, teacheth us to take our encouragement in prayer from God only, and in our prayers to praise him, ascribing kingdom, power and glory to him. And in testimony of our desire, and assurance to be heard, we say, Amen.