Ray of Hope Shining on the Face of a Child

A daily devotion for March 4th


We had previously suffered and been treated outrageously in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in the face of strong opposition. … We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts. … We were not looking for praise from people, … even though as apostles of Christ we could have asserted our authority.

1 Thessalonians 2:2-6

When Paul says, we dared to tell you his gospel in the face of strong opposition, he is describing courage. He is understating the case when he says that he had suffered in Philippi. Actually, this was one of the three times when he was beaten with thick rods and thrown into prison. You cannot read Paul's story and fail to see the courage he demonstrated in his ministry. When a riot broke out in Ephesus, he actually tried to face down a howling mob bent on taking his life. He had to be restrained by his friends to keep from sacrificing himself to the mob's fury.

Where did Paul get his courage? Some say he was courageous by nature. But that was not true. When he came into Corinth and began to preach, he did so with much fear and trembling (1 Corinthians 2:3). Some of you who want to reach out to your fellow-workers feel intimidated by the pagan atmosphere of your workplace. Paul felt that very strongly. In Ephesus, he wrote, there were fightings without and fears within (2 Corinthians 7:5). No, Paul was not naturally courageous.

Paul declares clearly what lay behind his courage. He did not preach out of error or uncleanness. He taught the truth of God, confirmed by the prophets and by Jesus himself. Also, guile, flattery, and greed played no part in his preaching. So many teachers today offer a promise of prosperity. If you follow them, they say, you will become rich. This was not Paul's doctrine. Nor did he come to seek fame or status in the eyes of men. He could have played upon his position as an apostle, but he did not. He did not slant his message, slurring over some of the unpleasant aspects of the truth, to appeal to the popular mind. He was honest and faithful, regardless of whether he received any praise or thanks.

What, then, produced his kind of courage? The answer is in verse 4: we speak as those approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts. Two things motivated Paul: First, he is grateful for being entrusted with the gospel. He gloried in the fact that God had called him to deliver a message that people desperately needed. God committed that message to Paul and to us. Is there anything greater than that? More than that, he was energized by a desire to please God. The only reason anyone wants to please God is because he loves him. You may try to please him to get something for yourself. But if you want to really please God, it is because you have learned that God already loves you. That is the wellspring of courage. Think about the love of God, about the honor of walking with him, and of speaking of the truth to others. That is the secret of Paul's courageous activity.

Father, grant me the courage to share the gospel even amidst strong opposition. Thank you for entrusting me with such a priceless treasure.

Life Application

In what ways is God calling you to a life of courage? What is challenging your courage to proclaim the gospel these days?

This Daily Devotion was Inspired by one of Ray's Messages

Whatever became of Integrity?

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