Giving Like The Gospel

How to give of yourself to someone: notice them, spend time with them, listen to them. The characteristics of being a good listener. Live your life in a way that the message is believable to them.

Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 2:7-9, John 3:16


Hello again, radio friends! How in the world are you? This is your good friend, Bob Cook, and I’m glad to be back with you to share from God’s wonderful Word, the Bible. We’re looking at 1 Thessalonians Chapter 2, and I’m discussing with you currently the list of negatives and positives that Paul used in describing his own ministry. It was important to him, evidently, as under the guidance of the Holy Spirit he wrote to these people to have them remember what happened when he came to them. He said, “Our entrance unto you was not in vain.” In other words, “I didn’t back off one inch, even though they beat me up and treated me badly in Philippi. He said, “I was bold in God to speak unto you the gospel with much urgency.” Then he begins to tell us what characterized his ministry. Our exhortation, he said, “No deceit,” (I told you the truth) “No uncleanness,” (My own life was right with God) “No guile,” (I didn’t try to manipulate you) “No flattering words,” (I didn’t try to cultivate you) “No covetousness,” (I wasn’t out to get a larger love offering) “No seeking of glory from people,” (I didn’t want a citation of honor for having been the best of something.) He said, “This wasn’t my approach.

But he said, “I considered that God allowed me to be in trust with the gospel. God believed in me enough to trust me with the most precious message in all the world.” “In trust with the gospel,” and then when we were talking just the last time we got together, we were looking at verse 7: “I was gentle,” like a nurse takes care of her own children. You may be taking care of somebody else’s children and you are kind and firm and faithful, but when it is your own, it touches your heartstrings more deeply, and he said, “You are like my own children.” Then he said, “I was affectionately desirous of you,” and I think that’s where we were the last time we got together. Now what is the result of being affectionately desirous, that is, really to care about people and to want the best for them?

Why, he said, “We were willing to have imparted not only the gospel to you, but our own souls, because you were dear unto us.” Our own souls. How about that? Not just what I was going to tell you, but my very life poured out to you because you were dear. And he uses the word agape: Calvary love. Agapeto: This is the amount of fire that he uses. It’s related to that Greek verb Agapao, and we get the noun Agape. God so loved the world: John 3:16 kind of love. That’s the word he uses here, “you were dear to me in Calvary love, John 3:16 kind of love, Heavenly love, Jesus love…that’s how I felt to you.” And he said, “That made me willing not only to give you the message but to give myself to you as well.”

“Our own souls” uses the word psyche, from which we get the word psychology and so on; that’s the root that he has here. The inner person; the whole personality. See, it’s one thing to say this, it’s another to apply it, and I try to put a handle on it for you, don’t I? How do you actually give yourself to somebody? Have you thought about that? It’s not only what you do for them. All of us have been in the position of somebody doing something for us and then sort of spoiling it by reminding us that they did it. “Hope you appreciate this, I missed my lunch to give it to you.” “Well, you should have had your lunch and forgotten the whole thing,” you know? There’s a sense in which doing things doesn’t really involve giving of yourself. Sometimes it does, but there has to be more involved, doesn’t there? There has to be a sense of valuing the other person in what you say and do.

So how do you give yourself to somebody? Number one: notice them. Number two: spend time with them. Number three: listen to them. Most of us are so busy telling that we forget to listen. Listen, and ask questions, actually. One of the rules of listening is learn to ask questions to draw the other person out. “Tell me again about this,” or “What else can you tell me about that?” Learn to ask questions and listen carefully. Think ahead of the person when you’re talking. “Where is he or she heading?” This is so that you know the direction in which the conversation is developing. Be very, very scarce with your own opinions.

Most people don’t want your opinion. Have you found that out? It’s amazing. Somebody comes to you and says, “I’d like your advice.” What they want is for you to listen to them and agree with them for the most part. That’s human nature. I’m not being hard on us now. That’s just the way it is. Be very shy with giving your own opinion. You might phrase what you want to get across in terms of a question: “Have you ever thought of this?” I learned that from Ben Weiss, my friend of many years and now with the Lord. He said, “I used to plod around and talk to members of my faculty, people who might be critical of me, and I would say, ‘There’s an idea I’m not sure I agree with, and what do you think of this?’” He’d ask a question. Things taught as though we taught them not, things remembered as though they were things forgot: That’s the old rule. How do you do this? How do you give yourself?

You put yourself in the other person’s place, you empathize with that person so that you actually feel how he or she is feeling, and then you relate all of that to the blessed Word of God and the indwelling Holy Spirit of God, and let the Lord work through you. “Rejoice with those that do rejoice, and weep with those that weep,” Paul said. See, you give yourself by entering into the experiences and the feelings of those with whom you’re dealing. That doesn’t mean you become the victim of what is victimizing them. But you enter into it in your own heart and your own feelings.

You don’t have to become the victim of drug abuse in order to give yourself in love and concern to one who is under that slavery. Do you understand me? He said, “I was willing to give myself to you, my whole life to you.” It doesn’t mean to die; it means to pour himself out, his whole life and soul, just to give himself. So I’ve given you some of the ideas that are involved: Notice the person, listen to the person, consider the person of value, ask questions, put yourself in their place, let your own heart be touched with the way they feel. Relate all of this to the Word of God and the indwelling Holy Spirit of God and pour out God’s love with them and lead them to take action for themselves based on God’s holy Word.

Give yourself. It takes time; sometimes it takes money. And always, it takes energy. It takes something of you. Anybody who’s in counseling knows that you come home from your day of counseling people and you feel wrung out. You feel absolutely drained. Why? Have you been digging ditches? Oh no. Have you been lifting bricks? Oh no. Have you been repairing cars? Oh no. “I’ve just been listening to people.” But you feel drained. Why? Because you gave yourself to them. That’s how it is, and it always takes energy, time and sometimes it takes some of your substance, because you can’t say “God bless you” to a hungry person without feeding him. But in any case, the secret of successful ministry for the Lord Jesus is to give yourself to the needy person for Jesus’ sake.

“Well,” he said in verse 9, “you remember our labor and travail. For laboring night and day because we would not be chargeable to any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God.” He was a tentmaker and he worked. “Laboring night and day”: so he worked nights as well. No overtime pay for Paul. He said, “I made my own way.” Now, does this teach, then, that every preacher ought to? Some denominations have been founded on the idea that their pastors should also be self-supporting. Well, it’s not a bad idea, but it’s not really taught in all of the New Testament, that anyone who preaches the gospel ought to support himself. Contrariwise, Paul says, “Let the elders that rule be counted worthy of double honor,” because the Scripture says, “Don’t muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn.” You ought to pay him or her, because there are women pastors now, aren’t there? Adequately, not just a meager pittance.

Traditionally, people have been stingy with their minister. I don’t know why that is so. I haven’t had the unfortunate experience of coming up against that congregation. I must say, I was in the pastorate for eighteen years, and people were very kind to Coreen and to me. But, when I started out, my salary was, I think, thirty dollars a week. Then they raised me to thirty-two dollars a week because I was getting married. I tell you, I took every funeral, wedding, and preaching engagement I could find in order to spell that out. But that’s all they had. They were doing as well as they could at the time. Traditionally, however, many a church has been a little stingy with their pastor and they expected him to be sort of evangelically shabby so that he wouldn’t be in danger of being too proud. Well, be that as it may, Paul said, “I didn’t want to be chargeable to any of you. I could have been, because I am an apostle. I could have said, “Listen, give me a place to stay and take care of my room and board, and pay me, because I am an apostle. I could have said that, but I didn’t.”

Now what was his point? He said, “I wanted you to know that this was for real.” Now there are some times when you have to make the extra effort to make sure that your message is believable. If people know that you are coming to them with a message while they are in need, but you don’t have any such need, they’re going to say, “Well, he’s alright. He’s feeling fine. But look at me.” Paul said, “I made my own way.” Bob Pierce used to say so earnestly, “You have to deserve a hearing for the gospel,” and so he would bring boatloads of rice and other supplies over for the refugees during the Korean War. And World Vision throughout the years has specialized in meeting needs in crisis areas of the world. You know about that.

So, deserving a hearing for the gospel is what Paul was working on. He said, “I labored, because I didn’t want you to say, “Well, we have to take care of him.” No, he said “I wanted you to believe the message that I brought you.” So wrap this all up and say to yourself, “I have to do whatever I have to do to make my gospel believable to the people I speak to.” Well, we’ll get back to this the next time we get together.

Dear Father today oh make us worthy of the message we preach, and may the life we live among people make our message believable. I ask in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today, and be a blessing!

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