“On the contrary, we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts” (1 Thessalonians 2:4).
As I reflect on the text of 1 Thessalonians this morning, a simple phrase jumps off the page at me – “entrusted with the gospel.”
No doubt Paul is writing as an apostle in this passage. But the application, as I read this text, is meant to be broader than an apostolic trust (see also a broader use in 2 Timothy 2:2). Paul is writing about ministry. He is writing about his ministry team with Silas and Timothy – “we.” Paul, Silas, and Timothy were entrusted with the gospel. God gave them the message in a trust.
This ministry team was assigned stewardship of the trust, like a homeowner would entrust his household property to a steward. They serve as trustees, guardians, keepers, or custodians.
Paul frequently uses the language of stewardship/trust to describe both the privilege and responsibility of his ministry.
- “On the contrary, they saw that I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, just as Peter had been to the Jews” (Galatians 2:7).
- “. . . that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me” (1 Timothy 1:11).
- “. . . and at his appointed season he brought his word to light through the preaching entrusted to me by the command of God our Savior” (Titus 1:3).
- “So then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God. Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful” (1 Corinthians 4:1-2).
- “If I preach voluntarily, I have a reward; if not voluntarily, I am simply discharging the trust committed to me” (1 Corinthians 9:17).
- “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others” (2 Timothy 2:2).
This trust concept profoundly impacts me as a preaching minister. God tests hearts. God entrusts with the gospel. And so it follows that I answer to God. When I speak, I must speak as a man of God. My ministry must be God-centered.
God’s approval must be my driving purpose. Viewing my ministry as a sacred trust of the gospel colors my entire outlook and determines my day to day activities.
God help those who preach and teach be faithful to the trust.