on 1-thessalonians 2 :20
For ye are our glory and joy - Ye are the seal of our apostleship; your conversion and steadiness are a full proof that God hath sent us. Converts to Christ are our ornaments; persevering believers, our joy in the day of judgment.
1. In the preceding chapter we have the character and marks of a genuine pastor laid down in such a manner as not to be misunderstood. Every man who preaches the Gospel should carefully read this chapter and examine himself by it. Most preachers, on reading it conscientiously, will either give up their place to others, or purpose to do the work of the Lord more fervently for the future. He who expects nothing but the approbation of Christ, will labor for Christ; and he, who has the glory of his Master only in view, will ever have his Master's presence and blessing. Those who enter into this work for human applause or secular emolument, may have their reward; but in that, one smile of approbation from Christ is not included.
2. God, for reasons best known to himself, often permits the most pious and benevolent purposes of his servants to be frustrated for a time. It is well that the good purpose was in the heart; but God knows the fittest time and place to bring it to effect. Satan is ever opposing all that is pure, good, and benevolent and he appears frequently to succeed; but this is not really the case: if at any time he prevents the followers of God from bringing a pious purpose into effect, that was the time in which it could not have been done to secure its full effect. Let the purpose be retained, and the best time and place will be duly provided. As Satan constantly endeavors to oppose every good work, no wonder he is found opposing a good purpose, even at the very time that God sees it improper to bring it to the intended effect. Man proposes, but God disposes.
3. The apostle speaks of the wrath coming upon the Jews: it was about twenty years after this that their city was destroyed, their temple burnt, more than a million of them destroyed, their civil polity utterly subverted, and what remained of this wretched nation scattered to all the winds of heaven; and in this state, without a nation, without a temple, without worship, and apparently without any religion, they continue, to this day, a monument of God's displeasure, and a proof of the Divine inspiration both of the prophets and apostles, who, in the most explicit manner, had predicted all the evils which have since befallen them. Their crimes were great; to these their punishment is proportioned. For what end God has preserved them distinct from all the people of the earth among whom they sojourn, we cannot pretend to say; but it must unquestionably be for an object of the very highest importance. In the meantime, let the Christian world treat them with humanity and mercy.
on 1-thessalonians 2 :20
For ye are our glory and joy - The meaning is, that the source of happiness to a minister of the gospel in the day of judgment will be the conversion and salvation of souls. The object of the apostle in dwelling on this in a manner so tender and affectionate is, to show them that his leaving them, and his long absence from them, were not caused by any want of affection for them.
Remarks On 1 Thessalonians 2
(1) Ministers of the gospel should be entirely sincere, and without guile. They should attempt to carry no measure - not even the conversion of sinners - by trick or management; 1 Thessalonians 2:3-5.
(2) they should not make it a point to please people; 1 Thessalonians 2:4, they do please men; or if their ministry is acceptable to people, they should not regard it, indeed, as proof that they are unfaithful, for they "should have a good report of them that are without;" nor should they make it a point to displease people, or consider it a proof that because people are offended, therefore they are faithful; but it should not be their leading aim or purpose to gratify people. They should preach the truth; and if they do this, God will take care of their reputation, and give them just as much as they ought to have. The same principle should operate with all Christians. They should do right, and leave their reputation with God.
(3) ministers of the gospel should be gentle, tender, and affectionate. They should be kind in feeling, and courteous in manner - like a father or a mother; 1 Thessalonians 2:7, 1 Thessalonians 2:11. Nothing is ever gained by a sour, harsh, crabby, dissatisfied manner. Sinners are never scolded either into duty or into heaven. "Flies are not caught with vinegar." No man is a better or more faithful preacher because he is rough in manner, coarse or harsh in his expressions, or sour in his contact with mankind. Not thus was the Master or Paul. There is no crime in being polite and courteous; none in observing the rules of good breeding, and paying respect to the sensibilities of others; and there is no piety in outraging all the laws which society has found necessary to adopt to promote happy conversation. What is wrong we should indeed oppose - but it should be in the kindest manner toward the persons of those who do wrong; what is true, and right we should maintain and defend - and we shall always do it more effectually if we do it kindly.
(4) ministers should be willing to labor in any proper calling, if it is necessary for their own support or to do good; 1 Thessalonians 2:9. It is, indeed, the duty of a people to support the gospel, but there may be situations where they are not able to do it, and a minister should be able to earn something, in some other way, and should be willing to do it. Paul made tents; and if he was willing to do that, a minister should not feel himself degraded if he is obliged to make shoes, or to hoe corn, or to plow, or to keep cattle. He had better not do it, if he can avoid it well - for he needs his time for his more important work; but he should feel it no dishonor if he is obliged to do it - and should feel that it is a privilege to preach the gospel even if he is obliged to support himself by making either tents or shoes. It is no dishonor for a minister to work hard; and it is not well for a man to enter the ministry wholly unacquainted with every other way of procuring an honest living.
(5) every minister should be able to appeal to the people among whom he has labored in proof that he is an honest man, and lives consistently with his profession; 1 Thessalonians 2:1, 1 Thessalonians 2:9-11. The same remark applies to all other Christians. They should so live that they may at once refer to their neighbors in proof of the uprightness of their lives, and their consistent walk, But to be enabled to do this, a man should live as he ought - for the world generally forms a very correct estimate of character.
(6) the joy of a minister in the day of judgment will be measured by the amount of good which he has done, and the number of souls which he has been the means of converting and saving; 1 Thessalonians 2:19. It will not be the honor which he has received from people; the titles which they have conferred on him; the commendation which he has received for eloquence or talent, or the learning which he has acquired, but it will be found in the number of those who have been converted from the error of their ways, and in the evidence of the good which he did on the earth. And will not the same thing be substantily true of all others who bear the Christian name? Will it then be a source of joy to them that they were richer than their neighbors; or that they were advanced to higher honors; or that they had a more splendid mansion, or were able to fare more "sumptuously?" The good that we do will be remembered certainly with pleasure in the day of judgment: of how many other things which now interest us so much can the same thing be said?
(7). Paul expected evidently to recognize the Thessalonian Christians at the day of judgment, for he said that they would be then his "joy and crown of rejoicin;" 1 Thessalonians 2:19. But this could not be, unless he should be able to know those who had been converted by his instrumentality. If he expected then to recognize them, and to rejoice with them, then we also may hope to know our pious friends in that happy world. Nothing in the Bible forbids this hope, and we can hardly believe that God has created the strong ties which bind us to each other, to endure for the present life only. If Paul hoped to meet those who had been converted by his instrumentality, and to rejoice with them there, then the parent may hope to meet the child over whose loss he mourned; the husband and wife will meet again; the pious children of a family will be re-assembled; and the pastor and his flock will be permitted to rejoice together before the Lord. This hope, which nothing in the Bible forbids us to entertain, should do much to alleviate the sorrow of the parting pang, and may be an important and powerful inducement to draw our own thoughts to a brighter and a better world. Of many of the living it is true that the best and dearest friends which they have are already in heaven - and how should their own hearts pant that they may meet them there!
on 1-thessalonians 2 :20