Thursday, October 26, 2017

Paul's mother-care

TODAY'S SPECIAL: 1 Thessalonians 2:1-8

TO CHEW ON: "But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children. So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but our own lives, because you had become dear to us." 1 Thessalonians 2:7-8

What untypical words to read from Paul, who is usually so instructional and corrective. They remind me of a little saying:

"People do not care how much you know until they know how much you care" - John C. Maxwell.

This might be a good time to refresh our memory about who these people were that Paul was writing to (the Thessalonians) and how the church at Thessalonica came into existence.

It was only the second church started on the European continent. The first was in Philippi, about 90 miles northeast. You will recall how Paul and Silas traveled from Troas to Macedonia (on the continent of Europe) in response to a vision (Acts 16:9). The mission at Philippi took a bad turn when Paul and Silas were thrown into prison. But an earthquake sprung them from their cell. They then led the jailor to Jesus and soon left town. (Their Philippian adventures are recorded in Acts 16:11-40.)

Their next stop was Thessalonica. Their stay there was just as troubled. Paul spent mere weeks with them, teaching for three Sabbaths in the synagogue where he "...reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead saying, 'This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ'" - Acts 17:1-3).

His message kindled a big response: "...a great multitude of the devout Greeks, and not a few of the leading women joined Paul and Silas" - Acts 17:4. But the gospel was too controversial for the Jews, who also envied the missionaries their success, hassled Jason their host, provoked a riot, and essentially ran Paul and Silas out of town (Acts 17:5-10).

It is to these believers Paul had known only a matter of weeks that he wrote this letter. It demonstrates the bond of love that Christians everywhere can feel for each other even though they have barely met. For Paul the relationship was especially poignant, as the people he had left behind were brand new believers. And so he used the language of motherhood, assuring these spiritual babies of his mother care for them: "...we were gentle among you just as a nursing mother cherishes (literally 'keeps warm') her own children.... pleased to impart to you not only the gospel...but our own lives."

I ask myself, do I have that spirit of sacrificial mother-love, especially toward those who are new and immature in the faith? Physical babies take a lot of time. Toddlers can tax one's patience. It's not so different with spiritual babies. I want Paul's words to be a model of Christian nurture to me as I interact with believers in all stages of maturity. You too?

PRAYER: Dear God, please grow in me love and gentle care for other believers, especially those who are new in their faith. Amen.

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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