Listen to the sermon here.
What’s your Relational IQ? For Paul, this sort of IQ is measured by a commitment to please God, rather than to please others (1 Thess 2:4). He is authentic rather than ‘packaged.’ In quick succession in 1 Thess 2:1-6 he can claim he is no empty-shell or a fraud. He is not calculating, political or manipulating. He never pushes his own way around, greedy or wanting to be the center of attention. He is the opposite of a con artist!
Paul shows his high relational IQ in 1 Thess 2:8 : “We were ready [=well-pleased] to share with you not only the Gospel of God, but also our own selves, because you had become very dear [=beloved] to us. This language of “well-pleased” and “beloved” sounds just like the words of God about Jesus in the Gospel, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased” (Matthew 3:17). Paul is not aloof and distant in his relationships, but he is allowing people to get close to him.
Why? Because Paul follows/imitates God’s lead. Paul is deeply aware he is God’s beloved and the Father is well-pleased with him (see Jer 31:3). He is eager to emulate this love and he is inviting us to do the same (1 Cor 11:1). In Christ, as His “beloved” with whom the Father is “well-pleased,” we too have been set free to please Him rather than others. This is awesome news!
Because our love can never match God’s perfect and holy love, we will express our love to others in creative imitation,* just like Paul did with the Thessalonians (he worked both shifts during his brief visit there, Ps. 121:4). The Lord has a path for each one of us to follow/mimic Him. This last point has been driven very recently with the passing of Nabeel Qureshi . See a bit of his story here:
Questions: Do you struggle with the tyranny of pleasing others, rather than God? What do you do when, in the words of Ed Welch, People are Big and God is Small in your life? Are your relationships strictly transactional or are you willing to allow people to enter your own private world? Take some time to ask the Lord to reveal the deep love of the Father to you. Do you believe that by faith in Jesus, you truly have become His beloved, with whom He is well-pleased?
*Thanks to my friend Jason Hood for leading me to this resource of creative imitation.