1 For you yourselves know, brothers, that our visit with you was not without result. 2 On the contrary, after we had previously suffered, and we were treated outrageously in Philippi, as you know, we were emboldened by our God to speak the gospel of God to you in spite of great opposition. 3 For our exhortation didn’t come from error or impurity or an intent to deceive. 4 Instead, just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please men, but rather God, who examines our hearts. 5 For we never used flattering speech, as you know, or had greedy motives—God is our witness— 6 and we didn’t seek glory from people, either from you or from others. 7 Although we could have been a burden as Christ’s apostles, instead we were gentle among you, as a nursing mother nurtures her own children. 8 We cared so much for you that we were pleased to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us. 9 For you remember our labor and hardship, brothers. Working night and day so that we would not burden any of you, we preached God’s gospel to you.
1 Thessalonians 2:1-9
The context suggests that Paul’s credibility and apostleship had been attacked, and so he is desperately seeking to remind the Thessalonians of his manner and behavior while he was with them. Six times in this paragraph (verses 1, 2, 5, 9, 10, 11) Paul says, “you know,” or “you remember,” or “you are witness.” And in all of this reminding of what they actually experienced; he tells them how he gave himself to them.
His critics were trying to undo the good work he had done among them, not by attacking his teachings, but by attacking his character. But Paul reminds them of how he wasn’t a burden to them, how he didn’t try to seek glory for himself, how he wasn’t out to deceive, and how he had no greedy motives. Instead, Paul was sacrificial and self-giving. He was gentle like a nursing mother who nurtured and cared for her own children.
Paul paints for us here a terrific picture of what discipleship looks like. He not only shared with them the gospel, but his very life as well. Not just his words, but his heart. Not just a message, but the messenger. Not just doctrine, but his life. His words and his life matched up to model for them what it looked like to follow Jesus. His words and his deeds all pointed to Christ.
The way we influence people and make a lasting impression on their lives is to share our own lives with them. Paul wasn’t perfect—he had flaws like all of us—but he purposed to model for the Thessalonians what a Christ-centered life looked like, teaching them with his lips but also with his life. He knew his words would be shallow if they weren’t matched by the depth of his actions.
We’re called to make disciples of Jesus. We do that by sharing our lives.
As a college student I was blessed to have a relationship with a man who shared his life with me in a way similar to what Paul did with the Thessalonians. He was a pastor whom God used to make a profound difference in my life. He routinely shared the gospel with me, reminding me of its power to transform my life, but he also gave me complete access to his life. I witnessed his hurts and his joys. He intentionally concealed nothing so I could see the way God was working in him and through him. I had a front row seat to see God’s hand in his life, and he encouraged me to walk worthy of God. He was discipling me by sharing his life with me.
Questions to Ask Yourself
You may feel you have nothing to give. But if you’re a follower of Jesus, you have much to give. Here are a few ways you can share your life with others:
- Be holy, righteous and blameless in your conduct (v. 10). Seek to lead a life that pleases the Lord by honoring Him with your words and deeds. You will proclaim and demonstrate the gospel through your life.
- Join a LIFE Group. LIFE Groups give you opportunities to be sacrificial and self-giving. We often consider joining a group to get our needs met, but consider also the opportunity it brings to serve and meet others’ needs. That’s the real value of group life.
- Have a mother-like affection for people (v. 7). Cultivate a heart that truly desires to see people flourish and grow in Christ. Because our Savior ferociously loves people, it’s natural that we would love people in a similar way.