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 (NIV)
“We speak as men approved by God.” This is an amazing statement from Paul, a man who was known for violence and blasphemy before he knew Christ personally.
Paul is telling us that he has a clear conscience before God—not because he hasn’t sinned, but because Jesus Christ has washed him, cleansed him, and brought him into an entirely new relationship with God. He has a clear conscience, not because he is now a perfect man—he is not, but because God knows the truth about him, as a man in Christ.
So when Paul says, “We are not trying to please men but God,” he is not trying to please God in order to be approved. He is trying to please God because he has been approved.
Jesus told a story about two men who went into the temple looking for God’s approval. The first man said a long prayer, listing all that he had accomplished. The second man didn’t do that because he knew his life fell far short of what God requires. So this second man prayed: “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.” Jesus said the second man went home justified or approved by God.
The approval of God is not earned but received. It does not come to you on the basis of merit, but on the basis of mercy. A life of ministry does not flow from an attempt to win the approval of God. It flows from the joy of receiving the approval of God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
When you are secure in the love of God, you can be entrusted with the gospel, and you will find that you are able to offer yourself in service and ministry to others.
When was the last time you were aware of trying to please God in order to be approved? Because you have been approved?