In the second chapter of 1 Thessalonians, Paul talks about the way he came to the town of Thessaloniki with the word of God. He talks about his motives. He wasn’t trying to trick anyone or to impress anyone or flatter anyone into believing in Jesus. He says he came to them gently and tenderly as he would with his own children. He wanted to share the gospel of God, and he and his companions wanted to share themselves because the people of Thessaloniki had already become so dear to him in a short time. I have to say that I know something of what Paul is saying because you Presbyterians in Elkhart stole my heart almost from the very first day I met you. You have been dear to me.
I think when we think about sharing the love of God and the message of Jesus that is so important to us, we have to ask why we want to share it. I know that for me, the people I am most passionate about communication the gospel to are the people who are nearest and dearest to me. Because they are near and dear, I am also the most careful with how I share my faith. I would never want to hurt them or suggest they are misinformed or wrong. They are smart people and I respect their ability to think and reason. But I still want to share my love for Jesus, because my experience of God changes my life for the better. I want them to know that same experience because I find it so helpful to me. My motivation is love.
I hope you will think tonight about the people you love and pray that God will speak to them and call to them and draw them close in love. I hope you will offer to be helpful in whatever way God might use you to love both the ones who are near and the ones God might choose to bring near to you. We have the love of God treasured in our souls that is meant to be given away. Give generously.
We were gentle among you, like a nurse tenderly caring for her own children. So deeply do we care for you that we are determined to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you have become very dear to us. I Thess. 2: 7-8
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