June 26, 2010
Building Strong Friendships in Christ
Gentle among You Today
“But we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children.”
1 Thessalonians 2:7
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Do you think of yourself as gentle among your friends? Well, how gentle do you see yourself? Are you as gentle as a nursing mother treats her own children? For most of us, especially most men, we have a very hard time imagining that we should treat fellow believers with the gentleness of a nursing mother. Yet, Paul sets that as the standard for building strong friendships in Christ.
Paul concluded the previous section by reminding the Thessalonians of all the things the ministry team did not do in bringing the Gospel of Jesus Christ to them. Now, Paul turns to the positive. The word “proved” here drives home a special point. In court, I often want to make a particular point to prove my case. I sometimes need to show that a particular party breached the contract at a particular time and and particular place. The best way to prove my point is often to call the opposing party as my witness and make that witness prove my point. In the same way, Paul uses the Thessalonians themselves to prove his point. You can only use this tactic in court if you are sure that the opposing party will make the right admissions, when asked the right questions. So, often you take the deposition of the witness before court, ask the witness certain questions under oath, and then ask those same questions again in court. If the answer changes, then you impeach the witness with their own deposition testimony where they gave different answers before. Paul uses the Thessalonians to prove that the ministry team was, in fact, gentle among them.
I am sure that you can come up with many examples of people, often Christians, being rough with you. At times, Jesus was rough with unbelievers and called them “a brood of vipers” (Matthew 3:7), “an evil and adulterous generation” (Matthew 12:39), “whitewashed tombs” (Matthew 23:27), “hypocrites” (Matthew 23:25). Even so, Isaiah prophesied of Jesus that He would not bread a bruised reed or extinguish a dimly burning wick (Isaiah 42:3). In the Gospels, Jesus treated many people with great compassion. Jesus did not treat new believers the same way He treated unbelievers, especially unbelieving leaders of Israel. Here is the point: in building a strong relationship with other believers, you must master the skill, under the Holy Spirit’s influence, of being as tender as a nursing mother to the new believers. Not only do you feed them the pure milk of the Word of God (1 Peter 2:2), but you also nurse them along with hugs and affection in Christ. Every person on the team had the same reputation for dealing with new believers at Thessalonica.
So, we learn some more about building strong friendships in Christ.
● Strong bonds of friendship form when we treat new believers with gentleness like a nursing mother treats her own children.
Application for Today
Today, I want act with gentleness, especially toward new believers. Who will you treat like your own child today?