1 Thessalonians 2:1-12 – You know, brothers and sisters, that our visit to you was not without results. 2 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. 3 For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you. 4 On the contrary, 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. 5 You know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed—God is our witness. 6 We were not looking for praise from people, not from you or anyone else, even though as apostles of Christ we could have asserted our authority. 7 Instead, we were like young children among you.
St. Augustine: Therefore, our good Master has taught us by his apostle not to live right and to do right in order to be praised by men, that is, not to make the praise of men our motive for doing right, yet for the sake of men we are to seek what is worthy of praise. Even when good men are praised, the benefit falls more on those who praise than on those who are praised. For, as far as the latter are concerned, it is enough for them that they are good. But the former, whose advantage it is to imitate the good, are to praise the good because they give evidence that those whom they praise sincerely are pleasing to them. Thus the apostle says in a certain passage: “If I pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.” In another passage he says: “Please all men in all things as I also in all things please all men,” but he gives the reason: “not seeking that which is profitable to myself but to many that they may be saved.”
Merciful Father, you know my weakness. You know how alluring the praise of the crowd is. The desire to be liked and well thought of is strong. But I am not strong; I am feeble. And so today I ask you to fill me with your Spirit and to give me an assurance that pleasing you is enough. More than enough.
Let my prayer be in secret. Let my fasting be in secret. Let my giving be in secret. Let my service to others be in secret. Remind me that you see all, and you alone are my audience. You are the One I seek to please and glorify. And yet, O Lord, let the result of my prayer, fasting, giving, service, and other good works that may be seen by others be for your praise in heaven.
Please give me such a love for you and others that it will not even occur to me to desire the praise and approval of others. Give me a growing self-forgetfulness and selflessness that focuses continually upon you and others. Let my goal not be “that which is profitable to myself but to many that they may be saved.”
As the Apostle Paul’s was to the Thessalonians, help my character and conduct be “holy, righteous, and blameless” as well as “encouraging, comforting and urging [others] to live lives worthy of God, who calls [them] into his kingdom and glory.” What a calling! What a humble calling you have given to me and to all who have been touched by your grace, filled by your Spirit, and called by your still small voice into your service. For this, O God, I give you praise. Amen.