The apostle Paul says more about preaching than the rest of the Bible combined. When he wrote his first letter to the church at Thessalonica he described two kinds of preachers. A close study of them in the second chapter of this book provides a vivid contrast between them. Most of us have seen both kinds, and as we read this passage, memories of those we have known come to mind. Look at his description of ungodly preachers.
Their exhortation has little regard for the difference between truth and error. Paul said, “Our exhortation did not come from error” (v. 3). His view of preaching was that he had been “entrusted with the gospel” (v. 4). The apostle Peter also described the responsibility every teacher has to the truth. “If anyone speaks let have him speak as the oracles of God” (1 Peter 4:11). The implication is that if one ignores what God said then he should not speak at all!
Their lives did not reflect their devotion to righteousness. The apostle said, “Our exhortation did not come from . . . uncleanness” (2:3). There is nothing which destroys the power of the message of the gospel more than unholiness in the lives of the messenger.
Their exhortation was characterized by flattering words and sought to please men and not God. Look again at the words in this epistle. “Neither at any time did we use flattering words” (v. 5). The eternal souls of those in the audience are far too precious for teachers to hide the message of God in such a way that pleasing men keeps sin from being addressed. Think about the fact that we have far too many who generically preach against sin, but rarely preach against sins!
Their teaching was motivated by a love of money which they received. Paul said, “Neither at any time did we use . . . a cloak for covetousness” (v. 5). Preachers should never preach so that they might receive a salary! Johnny Ramsey, a preacher who greatly impacted my life, once said, “You should love preaching so much that you never preach to be paid, but love it so much that you would even pay for the chance to preach.” “The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil” (1 Tim. 6:10), and it is often the root of preaching which does not honor God.
Their preaching sought glory from men. Paul’s last description of the ungodly is, “Nor did we seek glory from men” (v. 6). The pulpit is not a stage to be used to bring praise from the audience. The only audience which matters is not the one before the preacher, but the one above him!