1 Thessalonians 2.6b-9
During my seminary days I was watching every penny. My part-time work was just keeping me afloat with my bills paid. Life as a student forced me to be frugal.
When it came time for vehicle repair, I looked for ways to keep the costs down. Instead of heading to the dealership, I went to a guy who had his own shop. He was scary looking and covered with grease. I was never sure if the work was done right, but since my truck kept on running, I was thankful.
After the Lord provided a steady income I felt more confident to head to the dealership for service. When I moved to Texas, I was reticent to trust just anyone. But, the local service manager was amazing.
He talked with me, told me what to expect, gave me an estimate that was accurate, complimented my vehicle and the care that I had given it over the miles and invited me to call him any time that I had a problem. There is something about his gentle manner and welcoming spirit that made me trust him. A gracious spirit wins confidence and lays the ground work for long-lasting trust.
Paul and his missionary companions had needs like any human being has need for food, shelter and lodging. Since believers who benefitted from the Apostles’ teaching should provide these basic provisions. However, such allowances would have strained the meager resources of the Thessalonians.
Knowing that these believers did not have “deep pockets” or vast resources, Paul chose not to burden them with the provision of his daily necessities. Instead, he took every step necessary to encourage them and shower them with gentleness.
Amazing, Paul chooses a metaphor to describe his care for them. He states that as a mother cares for her little children, he has chosen to watch over them. This is a vivid picture and even more remarkable coming from a man using a feminine but universal and timeless illustration.
Some must move a man to have this kind of care for a people. Already the image of a mother providing for her children is active in the minds of his readers. Without any hesitation he boldly announces his motivation. He loves them. Furthermore, his love for them is deep.
There are few images depicting an unselfish spirit more than the picture of a mother caring for her children. All mothers portray that self-sacrificial spirit. They say that they are going to get ready for bed. That has a special meaning.
They get up and fix the lunches for all their children and her husband. Then, she oversees the children washing up. After that she reads them a story, prays with them and tucks them into bed. Then, she cleans up the kitchen, sorts out the trash, checks her list for dinner preparations that next night, adds some items to the shopping list, fixes the missing buttons from her children’s sweaters and then takes care of her own needs. An hour and forty-five minutes after her announcement she falls asleep in bed.
Paul hitches his wagon to this amazing analogy of the loving mother as his own expression of devotion to the Thessalonian believers. He will not only sacrificially serve them, he will delight in doing so. The popular notion that leadership is servant-leadership is a topic many of us repeat. It is chic to talk about servant hood until someone treats you like one. Then, the test of our soul emerges.
The apostle and his team accurately delivered the message of the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ. As well, they shared their very lives with them. All of us who minister to people give our lives in our service. It is the only way to do ministry well.
In the last several places where I have given my life in service the people reciprocated with love as well. Their outpouring of appreciation was an elixir to my soul. Words, gestures, kindnesses poured out in bountiful forms. They remembered our service and made us feel their love when it was time to leave and move to another part of God’s vineyard.
Has someone in ministry given their lives and you were a beneficiary? Show them that you appreciate that devotion. You will never know how much it means to a servant of God when you tangibly demonstrate what you have deeply valued in your life.
LAPP (Life Application): Do something tangible for someone who has served you in the name of the Lord. Write them a letter of appreciation. Take them to dinner. Send them on a cruise. They have given you their life for the cause of Christ. Now, show them how much you appreciate what you have received.