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.For you remember, brothers,our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. You are witnesses, and God also,how holy and righteous and blameless was our conduct toward you believers.For you know how,like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory. 1 Thessalonians 2:7-12 ESV
In my “plea for grace” I often ask the question, “what is the most helpful?”
Is it better for me to _______, or is it more helpful for me to help someone else be successful?
In my desire to help, am I actually causing more of a burden?
Am I truly serving, or am I seeking glory for myself, or trying to fill a need in me that only God can fill?
Am I considering myself better than ______?
At first glance I thought of this passage in a “missions” context. It is definitely missional. Paul wrote this after having been on a mission trip to Thessalonica. He is recalling his time with these new believers.
But I’m not on a foreign field. I’m not going on a short-term mission trip. My “world” rarely extends beyond my front courtyard. So, how do I adjust my life to obedience to God’s Word from this passage?
Would those around me (i.e. my husband, my children, my neighbors, my facebook contacts, my church family) consider me gentle? Not a wet noodle. Not a wimp. Gentle as a nursing mother with her children — allowing and understanding that no one is perfect. Not expecting people to read my mind. Not assuming that a person’s intent was for evil.
Do I have a genuine affection for my church family? If I believe that God has Sovereignly placed me in this church at this time, then He has also placed these people in my life at this place at this time.
Do I have a genuine affection for my “same last name and related to” family? Am I more kind, more compassionate, more forgiving of passing acquaintances than I am of those with whom I share a home?
Am I “ready to share” not only my words, but my self?
It’s easy to say “I’ll pray for you.” Will I make the time to do it?
It’s easy to say, “I’m so sorry that happened.” Will I purpose to make extra meals and have them in the freezer so when someone has a need I am ready to serve?
It’s easy to say, “believe in Jesus. Trust in Christ.” But will I sacrifice to walk with someone through their doubts and questions and anxiety? Will I come alongside through repentance, struggle?
Please understand. THE WORDS ARE IMPORTANT. Paul doesn’t say we just preached. Nor does he say we just did. Both are necessary. Sharing the gospel IS sharing our lives. Sharing our lives IS telling the gospel.
Am I a burden or a help? This is not the “woe is me, I’m a worm, I’m not worth anything.” I’m just going to say it — that attitude is sinful pride. It’s absolutely true that you are sinful, but Jesus Christ paid a tremendous price (i.e. his gruesome death on the cross) for your soul, and God has declared His love for you. He saved you for a purpose. To sit and say you can’t do anything is to say that God’s gift and Christ’s payment for you wasn’t enough.
Ok, off my soap box. Back to the point.
This burden or help part is something I struggle with frequently. Anyone with a complex health issue and/or disability struggles with this. How much do I let others do for me? Where is the line between being humble and allowing others to serve, and being a burden expecting others to sacrifice more than I am willing to sacrifice? I can only answer for me. . .
When I cook, I habitually make multiple meals. Yes, some are so I have something to share; but they are also there for when I have days that cooking is out of the question. My lack of planning should not become someone else’s burden.
I MUST not let laundry pile up, nor let the kitchen get messy, nor neglect the bathroom. I don’t have the energy to marathon clean. I have to do it little by little. I can’t expect someone to come in and clean my house because I refused to work with what God has given me.
I have to ruthlessly prioritize. My time in the Word. My time for prayer. Energy for my husband. Time for my children. I can’t spend my energy in places that might “appreciate” me more at the neglect of those God has placed directly in front of me.
Those are a few of my “lines”
Am I an encourager? Not just “yippee, hoorah for you!” Do I spur my brothers and sisters on to love and good deeds? (from Hebrews 10). Do I verbally encourage younger women to love their husbands and children, etc (from Titus 2)? Am I seeking to love God with all my heart, mind, and strength, and love my neighbor as myself (Mark 12), and calling my brothers and sisters to do the same? That kind of encouragement.
I would love to hear what impresses you about this passage.