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  • Writer's pictureJohn Lenschow

Integrity, Love, and Commitment

1 Thessalonians 2:5-8

1. Recognize the Context:

Previous context:

In verse 1, Paul reminded the Thessalonians about his previous visit with them. Their conversion was, in fact, evidence his visit was not a failure. In verse 3, Paul seemed to be offering a defense of his actions, most likely in response to those outside the church who continued to provide resistance, even after he left the city. His appeal to serve the living and true God was not made with error, impure motives, nor was it an attempt to trick the Thessalonian church.

On the contrary, Paul and his co-workers had been approved by God and entrusted with the gospel. Their proclamation was not an attempt to please people or tell them what they wanted to hear. Instead, Paul and his co-labors desired to please God, who tests the heart.

2. Read the Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 2:5-8

5 You know we never used flattery, nor did we put on a mask to cover up greed—God is our witness. 6 We were not looking for praise from people, not from you or anyone else, even though as apostles of Christ we could have asserted our authority. 7 Instead, we were like young children among you. Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, 8 so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.  

3. Reflect on the Scripture: In verses 5-8, Paul continued to explain his initial visit to Thessalonica. This section develops verses 1-4 by providing a distinct contrast of behaviors he and his companions avoided and then presenting behaviors they modeled.

First, Paul and his companions abstained from the use of flattery. There was no attempt to persuade or manipulate their hearers with excessive adulation. Second, they were not motivated by greed, nor was there any attempt to disguise avarice to mislead the new converts. Third, they were not seeking praise or recognition from anyone. There was no attempt to boost their reputation.

In the Greco-Roman world, there were itinerant orators and traveling philosophers. Some had positive motives and desired to bring about true moral change. Others were known to use these terms (flattery, greed, and seeking praise) in an attempt to deceive and manipulate their audiences for their own personal gain. Paul sought to distinguish himself from these ancient “con-artists.” For Paul, his integrity and the integrity of the gospel were at stake.

In verses 7-8, Paul provided a contrast by indicating what actions they modeled for these new converts. He provided two distinct images to depict his relationship with the Thessalonian church. Paul and his companions were like young children with them, innocent and gentle in their approach.

He also used a maternal image. They were like a nursing mother who cares for her own children. This picture captured the essence of Paul’s love for these young believers. Because of this affection, Paul and his co-laborers not only shared the gospel message, but they shared their lives in a very personal way.

4. Relate to life:

Remember, it is important to be a doer of God’s Word, not merely a hearer or reader (James 1:22-25). Here are some practical ways to actively respond to God’s Word. Consider these or create other ways you can apply the message.

To pray:

In this passage, Paul provides an incredible model of integrity, love, and commitment. Today, prayerfully reflect on these personal attributes as they relate to your own life lately. As positive examples come to mind, thank God for them. If negative examples come to mind, ask God for forgiveness, and ask for his help.

A thought about prayer-When praying it’s important to distinguish between conviction and condemnation. God uses conviction by the Holy Spirit to draw believers to himself. If you feel like a failure, you'll never be able to do, you should just quick, this is condemnation, and it’s NOT from God. It's from the enemy of your soul who wants to draw you away from God. Conviction is from God, and always draws you to himself (Rom. 8:1) Remember this difference!

To do:

Today, think of a specific person or two. How can you not only share the gospel but how can you share your very life with them? Prayerfully write down specifically how this can be done. Ask for the Holy Spirit’s help.

What about the life of your local church? How have you witnessed integrity, love, and commitment? How can you pray for your church? Who can you specifically encourage today in these areas?

Given the prayer suggestion above, what's one thing you want to incorporate into your life today? Think about your attitudes, actions, and words.

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Beautiful contrast that Paul draws using the imagery of 'young children' and the 'maternal image' very helpfully reinforced in the commentary by the pictures - especially the picture of a mother and her infant child. These verses also it seems to me give an insight into the sort of man Paul was - capable of great personal affection and deep 'spiritual affection' for the church. Not surprising that we have the beautiful verses in Acts 20: 37-38: Then they all wept freely and fell on Paul's neck and kissed him, sorrowing most of all for the words which he spoke , that they would see his face no more.

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