Neither did we eat any man's bread for naught - We paid for what we bought, and worked with our hands that we might have money to buy what was necessary.
Labour and travail night and day - We were incessantly employed, either in preaching the Gospel, visiting from house to house, or working at our calling. As it is very evident that the Church at Thessalonica was very pious, and most affectionately attached to the apostle, they must have been very poor, seeing he was obliged to work hard to gain himself the necessaries of life. Had they been able to support him he would not have worked with labor and travail night and day, that he might not be burdensome to them; and, as we may presume that they were very poor, he could not have got his support among them without adding to their burdens. To this his generous mind could not submit; it is no wonder, therefore, that he is so severe against those who would not labor, but were a burden to the poor followers of God.
Neither did we eat any man‘s bread for nought - We were not supported in idleness at the expense of others. We gave a fair equivalent for all that we received, and, in fact, labored for our own support; see the notes on 1 Thessalonians 2:9.
I have been shown that many do not rightly estimate the talents which are among them. Some brethren do not understand what preaching talent would be the best for the advancement of the cause of truth, but think only of the present gratification of their feelings. Without reflection they will show preference for a speaker who manifests considerable zeal in his preaching and relates anecdotes which please the ear and animate the mind for a moment, but leave no lasting impression. At the same time they will put a low estimate upon a preacher who has prayerfully studied that he may present before the people the arguments of our position in a calm manner and in a connected form. His labor is not appreciated, and he is often treated with indifference. 1T 447.1
A man may preach in a spirited manner and please the ear, but convey no new idea or real intelligence to the mind. The impressions received through such preaching last no longer than while the speaker's voice is heard. When search is made for the fruit of such labor, there is little to be found. These flashy gifts are not as beneficial, and well calculated to advance the cause of truth, as a gift that can be trusted in hard, difficult places. In the work of teaching the truth it is necessary that the important points of our position be well fortified with Scripture evidences. Assertions may silence the unbeliever, but will not convince him. Believers are not the only ones for whose benefit laborers are sent into the field. The salvation of souls is the great object. 1T 447.2
Some brethren have erred in this respect. They have thought that Brother C was the right man to labor in Vermont and that he could accomplish more than any other minister in that state. Such do not view matters from a right standpoint. Brother C can speak in a manner to interest a congregation, and if this were all that is necessary to make a successful preacher, then a class of brethren and sisters would be right in their estimation of him. But he is not a thorough workman; he is not reliable. In church trials he is of no account. He has not experience, judgment, and discernment to be of any benefit to the church when in trial. He has not been a thoroughgoing man in temporal matters, and although he has but a small family, he has needed assistance more or less. The same lack is manifested in spiritual things as in temporal affairs. Had the right course been pursued toward him in the commencement of his preaching, he might now be of some use in this cause. His brethren injured him by making too much of him and by leaving him to bear but few of the burdens of life, until he has thought that his labors were of the greatest consequence. He has been willing that brethren in Vermont should bear his burdens while he was relieved from care. He has not had a suitable amount of exercise to give tone and strength to his muscles, and for the good of his health. 1T 448.1Read in context »
Before he became a disciple of Christ, Paul had occupied a high position and was not dependent upon manual labor for support. But afterward, when he had used all his means in furthering the cause of Christ, he resorted at times to his trade to gain a livelihood. Especially was this the case when he labored in places where his motives might have been misunderstood. AA 347.1
It is at Thessalonica that we first read of Paul's working with his hands in self-supporting labor while preaching the word. Writing to the church of believers there, he reminded them that he “might have been burdensome” to them, and added: “Ye remember, brethren, our labor and travail: for laboring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God.” 1 Thessalonians 2:6, 9. And again, in his second epistle to them, he declared that he and his fellow laborer while with them had not eaten “any man's bread for nought.” Night and day we worked, he wrote, “that we might not be chargeable to any of you: not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us.” 2 Thessalonians 3:8, 9. AA 347.2
At Thessalonica Paul had met those who refused to work with their hands. It was of this class that he afterward wrote: “There are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.” While laboring in Thessalonica, Paul had been careful to set before such ones a right example. “Even when we were with you,” he wrote, “this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.” Verses 11, 12, 10. AA 347.3Read in context »