Saturday, 1 July 2017
But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children. 1 Thessalonians 2:7
For the past two verses, Paul has explained how he and those with him did not act towards those at Thessalonica. They didn’t use flattering words, they didn’t seek to be glorified by their hearers, etc. Now he tells them how they did act by starting with the contrasting word, “But.” In this, he is ensuring that they see a difference in their approach than others who may have come to them with other religious beliefs. Instead, he says they “were gentle among you.” There was nothing overbearing in their nature, nothing demanding, and nothing which would indicate expecting payment or special attention to their needs.
It must be noted that he could not have written this if it were not true. If the Thessalonians received a letter which did not match what really occurred, they would have laughed, torn up the letter, and tossed it in the fire. Instead, it has been carefully maintained for 2000 years, testifying to the truth of the words it contains. And so, Paul continues. Not only were they gentle, but it was “just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children.”
The word for “nursing” is trophos, a word unique to the Bible. It signifies a care-giver who sustains someone by nourishing and tending to them like a nurse. It can mean a mother or any other such care-giver. However, in this case, the added word “mother” is probably correct. One reason is that the thought of a mother caring for her children is one of an especially close bond. But another particular reason is that Paul will return to the parent symbolism in verse 11 when he says, “as a father.”
Their care of those in Thessalonica was displayed in different ways in order to obtain different outcomes. One was as a mother, one was as a father, and at other times, it is as brothers. In the case of their gentleness among the church, they cared for them even as closely and as tenderly as a mother would care for and nurse her own children. The metaphor is heart-warming and touching. And again, he could not have written this in a letter back to the church if it was not so. The words themselves confirm the truth of the claim.
Life application: How willing are you to act in a gentle and humble manner towards those who have less understanding of the Lord than you? It is true that there are plenty of people who are not well-versed in Scripture, and yet they act as if they are the finest of biblical scholars. Plenty of them, plus. Just ignore those folks. Don’t get into debates with them as you will only waste your time. But for those who are truly seeking to know the truth, if you possess it, pass it on to them in a kind and gentle manner.
Lord God, thank You for those kind and gentle teachers of the word who carefully explain what You are telling us, and who are willing to repeat things, even many times, until it sinks into our heads. Keep us from know-it-alls who know nothing and who just want to hear themselves speak. Instead, direct us to the right teachers who will lead us down the proper path of Your precious word. Amen.