nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others, though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ. but we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. so, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us. [1 thessalonians 2:6-8]
paul’s letter to the thessalonians doesn’t leave any room for ambiguity in how he feels about them. he’s so filled with love and encouragement because of the transformation he has seen from the gospel in their lives. he praises the Lord all throughout his letters to them because of the great work he sees in their hearts, evidenced by their love for each other, their love being poured out in the surrounding areas, and the gospel being proclaimed all throughout their reach.
when paul, silas, and timothy had visited them, they could have taught with prideful authority, demanded that the church put them up, feed them, meet their needs, and hammered them over the head with their God given rights as apostles. but because they were so excited to bring them the good news of Jesus, they paid for their room and board, all their meals, provided for their own needs, so that God would get all the glory for the message they were bringing. they brought the message gently, full of hope, a desperate cry for an idolatrous people to follow God’s better way through the joy of Jesus Christ. and the rich language he uses to describe his feelings toward them! we were gentle. having the love of a mother to her children. we were affectionately desirous. you had become very dear to us.
as we sit in the presence of God today, let’s remember that this is exactly how God feels about us and acts toward us. he deals with us gently, with the love of a mother toward her children, affectionately desirous of us. and, he is ready to share his truth with us as well as himself with us, because we are dear to him. if this doesn’t give you a complete sense of love, belonging, and total confidence in your God given identity, read over this passage a few more times and let the truth soak in, asking for help in any unbelief. we are loved. desperately loved.
secondly, we can look at our love for the church. does it meet the affection paul has for the thessalonians? i certainly can’t claim this level of zeal for God’s people. maybe you have a zeal for building up God’s people, but you struggle with a desire to be seen as important or wise in their eyes and really struggle with humility, seeking your glory and not God’s glory. whatever your tendency or struggle, bring it before the Lord. confess your wrong desires or lack of desire, and ask for a humble passion to see the body of Christ grow in their love for him as you seek to walk beside them in holiness.
~ arwen eastman