For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? Indeed, you are our glory and joy. 1 Thessalonians 2:19, 20
Paul created the climate of warm and loving interpersonal relationships in which the Word of God is best shared.
1 You know, brothers and sisters, that our visit to you was not without results. 2 We had previously suffered and been treated outrageously in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in the face of strong opposition. 3 For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you. 4 On the contrary, we speak as those approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please people but God, who tests our hearts. 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.
No trickery, no flattery or hiding behind a mask to cover greed. Not even a desire for praise fro men. Instead, Paul’s motive, as one “entrusted with the gospel,” was simply to please God. God does not focus on what men do for him, but on what is in their hearts.
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. 9 Surely you remember, brothers and sisters, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you. 10 You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed. 11 For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, 12 encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.
Paul’s life was transparent, so that God might approve all that was in his heart. What was there was clear: love.He was gentle, as a nursing mother caring for a tiny infant. That gentleness is an expression of love, as was the fact that Paul shared not only the gospel but himself, “because you had become so dear to us.”
This means more than giving time to individuals (“each of you”). It means coming to know each individual so well that each can be given just the guidance, encouragement, or urging needed to stimulate growth.
In all this ministry, Paul’s goal was to see these children in Christ grow to maturity, enabling them to “live worthy of God, who calls you to his kingdom and glory.”
Sharing the gospel with others is no impersonal, “say the words” kind of thing. Sharing the gospel effectively calls for bonds of love and open communication with those we serve, not because we seek praise from men, but because “we love you so much.”
13 And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe. 14 For you, brothers and sisters, became imitators of God’s churches in Judea, which are in Christ Jesus: You suffered from your own people the same things those churches suffered from the Jews 15 who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and also drove us out. They displease God and are hostile to everyone 16 in their effort to keep us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. In this way they always heap up their sins to the limit. The wrath of God has come upon them at last.
Paul’s Longing to See the Thessalonians
17 But, brothers and sisters, when we were orphaned by being separated from you for a short time (in person, not in thought), out of our intense longing we made every effort to see you. 18 For we wanted to come to you—certainly I, Paul, did, again and again—but Satan blocked our way. 19 For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you?
Even the suffering and opposition is something Paul takes as evidence of God’s grace — and as proof that judgment will soon fall on those who heap up their sins to the limit.
[I would like to be able to love like Paul. Pray and it will happen. Not there yet. But, I’ve experience it with at least one friend. So with the help of God, I can do it with more people. Not just sharing the gospel but myself as well. Not just giving my time but get to know the person well. Be able to guide. Give myself. Make others the object of my joy and glory. Be transparent. Be loving.]