Love is more than a feeling. Love in the Bible means actions rather than emotions. That’s why Paul coupled love with labor in 1 Thessalonians 1:3. From Paul and his missionary band’s laboring love for the Christians in Thessalonica, we learn three characteristics of laboring love. As you reflect on them, feel free to share one of three questions with each other.
Love is persistent. Paul, Silas and Timothy had a terrible experience in Philippi for preaching the gospel and received much opposition (poli-agony in Greek) from the violent Thessalonian Jews. Yet no trauma and terror could stop nor suppress their love to declare God’s goodnews to Thessalonians. What trauma or opposition have you overcome with God’s love this week or in your life?
Love is pure. Paul confirmed that the motive of his ministry was pure and was not aimed to get some financial profits, social reputation, or any personal gain. He wanted to please not people but God, “who tests our hearts.” Paul had a pure love because he lived his life with an “Audience of One.” He loved Thessalonians sacrificially and selfless because he wanted to please God, the Only One of his heart. How did the “audience of one”-mentality affect your life and/or your week?
Love is profoundly personal. Paul compared his personal care for Thessalonians to that of a wet nurse for her own children. Like the poor nursing mothers in Greco-Roman world, Paul had an aching heart for her own spiritual children. He used the mother metaphor several times to express his profound personal commitment to God’s people. In Galatians 4:19, Paul was in labor pains for the spiritual birth in that Christ is formed in his followers. Why and how does Paul’s metaphor of a nursing mother affect your attitude toward the people that God placed under your care or in your life this week?
Paul I. Kim, Ph. D
Lead Pastor of Forest Community Church