Any new parent will agree that caring for a newborn baby is an act of selfless love. The newborn baby relies completely on parents to meet its needs for food, physical closeness, and safety, while the little one mostly eats, sleeps, cries, and fills diaper after diaper. This can be exhausting, but parents persist because they love the new life that has been entrusted to their care.
This is how Paul pictured the initial relationship between his team and the Thessalonians. Though in terms of social status the missionaries had been like “young children,” spiritually they were the parents of the fledgling church. Like a mother caring for her newborn with gentle love, they’d fed and protected the baby believers in their early days of faith (vv. 7–8). Like a father teaching and encouraging his children toward right character and behavior, they’d instructed and exhorted the Thessalonians as they took their first steps on the pilgrimage to Christlikeness (vv. 11–12).
Paul and his team had no selfish ulterior motives. They’d shared the gospel and their lives in an authentic manner (v. 8). They’d worked hard so they wouldn’t be a burden to the young church and so their motives couldn’t be criticized or misunderstood (v. 9). They certainly didn’t want to be confused with traveling secular orators, who in that day exercised their skills for praise and profit. And they didn’t do these things grudgingly, but with delight! As we also read yesterday (v. 5), God Himself could bear witness to their blameless conduct—and if they were honest, so could the Thessalonians (v. 10).
The essential goal for both the missionaries and the Thessalonians was “to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory” (v. 12; see also 1 Thess. 1:4).
>> Salvation is more than a moment or a “sinner’s prayer.” It’s a process or a journey of growing toward Christlike perfection (James 1:2–4). Thank God for His faithfulness in this!
Father, we thank you for your continual work in our hearts and minds; our growth is entirely due to your kindness. We thank you for the men and women who have served you by investing in our spiritual growth.