What’s Love Got To Do With It? – 1st Thess 2:7-8 05/29/2022

What’s Love Got To Do With It? – 1st Thessalonians 2:7-8 05/29/2022


Sometimes, no matter how hard you try to be clear, someone is going to misunderstand what you’re saying. It’s even worse when your motives are misunderstood. That’s the problem Paul was facing with the fledgling Thessalonian church. He had accumulated detractors in the city. Our text today is 1st Thessalonians 2:7-8, which I leave to you to look up. Paul is carefully stressing how he and his fellow missionaries had treated the Thessalonians.[1] This is partly in defense against their critics, but it also serves as a reminder to the Thessalonian church, and it gives a practical example of Christian conduct.[2]


Part of this conduct was financial, they worked for what they needed. When it comes to finances, Paul seemed to have had a simple approach. Don’t have any. There are probably several overlapping reasons for refusing to receive support from those he was ministering to.[3] It’s likely that his rabbinical upbringing played a part; the traditions of the Pharisees forbade making religious instruction a means of livelihood.[4] Paul’s independent personality probably played into this as well.[5]


However, the primary reason was probably Paul’s desire to set a good example.[6] Paul and his companions had brought the gift of the Gospel.[7] They delivered this without charge. As a part of the instruction being given, Paul demonstrated an aspect of this new life the Thessalonians were entering into; the need to work in order to meet our physical needs. Paul was modeling this for the church.


But they did even more than this. They very intentionally loved the members of this new church. They got involved in their lives. Paul, Timothy, and Silas, remind the church that they recognized these new Christians needed time to mature.[8] They were prepared to be patient. Therefore they demonstrated mildness and patience.[9] They remained courteous and calm as they worked with those who were hot-tempered and aggressive.[10] They gave people time to grow.


This was something new. None of the Hellenistic creeds were based on love, certainly not expressions of love to each other.[11] It didn’t offer any care for the poor or for those who were on the “outside.”[12] Those who were burdened, or who had not succeeded in life found no hope in what Hellenism could offer.[13] Then, there were the mystery cults; these offered their initiates a mystical association.[14] In some instances they would provide help in case of illness or the need to address burial costs.[15] But cult members were not family, and their deities didn’t love them.[16] Nor was there a bond of love between the initiate’s fellow members.[17]


Not so with the message of the Gospel. Through the Gospel God invited the Thessalonians (and us) to receive forgiveness of sins.[18] In doing so, He invited them to become members of His own family… forever![19] The message of the Gospel was, then and now, the overwhelming message that God loves them and desires to have a permanent personal relationship with each of them.[20]


Reflecting God’s own love, for Paul love is always a verb, it transcends feelings and expresses itself through doing.[21] Paul and his companions demonstrated their love through practical means, genuine love will always find its expression through giving to others in some form.[22] It is the commitment of acting in the best interests of another person that matters; this often opens the way for feelings to follow.[23]


Now approaching this from a practical angle, we often find that it’s really hard to love someone in our church family; they may just rub you the wrong way, or they may have actually done something that hurt you in some way. It can be hard to love others, even in the church. And yet, that’s exactly what we’re told to do. But the love we’re called to exercise goes beyond our church family. Jesus wasn’t content to tell you to love your Christian brother or sister. He went way beyond that and tells us to love our enemies; Like 6:35-36.


So, what exactly are we talking about when we talk about loving other people? Well, unfortunately, the Scriptures tell us: 1 John 3:16-18. We love sacrificially, we meet physical needs. We care about other people. This kind of love doesn’t naturally gush out of us. It requires that our eyes are set on Jesus as we are led by His Spirit. And then, by accident, we begin to love like Jesus does, and sometimes we don’t even know it. We just do it.


[1] Tim Shenton, Opening up 1 Thessalonians, Opening Up Commentary (Leominster: Day One Publications, 2006), 34. [2] Tim Shenton, Opening up 1 Thessalonians, Opening Up Commentary (Leominster: Day One Publications, 2006), 34. [3] F. F. Bruce, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, vol. 45, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1982), 31. [4] F. F. Bruce, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, vol. 45, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1982), 31. [5] F. F. Bruce, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, vol. 45, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1982), 31. [6] F. F. Bruce, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, vol. 45, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1982), 31. [7] D. Michael Martin, 1, 2 Thessalonians, vol. 33, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1995), 81. [8] Knute Larson, I & II Thessalonians, I & II Timothy, Titus, Philemon, vol. 9, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000), 24. [9] Ceslas Spicq and James D. Ernest, Theological Lexicon of the New Testament (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1994), 175. [10] Ceslas Spicq and James D. Ernest, Theological Lexicon of the New Testament (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1994), 175. [11] Lawrence O. Richards, The Teacher’s Commentary (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1987), 951. [12] Lawrence O. Richards, The Teacher’s Commentary (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1987), 951. [13] Lawrence O. Richards, The Teacher’s Commentary (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1987), 951. [14] Lawrence O. Richards, The Teacher’s Commentary (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1987), 951. [15] Lawrence O. Richards, The Teacher’s Commentary (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1987), 951. [16] Lawrence O. Richards, The Teacher’s Commentary (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1987), 951. [17] Lawrence O. Richards, The Teacher’s Commentary (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1987), 951. [18] Lawrence O. Richards, The Teacher’s Commentary (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1987), 951. [19] Lawrence O. Richards, The Teacher’s Commentary (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1987), 951. [20] Lawrence O. Richards, The Teacher’s Commentary (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1987), 951. [21] Knute Larson, I & II Thessalonians, I & II Timothy, Titus, Philemon, vol. 9, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000), 24. [22] Thomas L. Constable, “1 Thessalonians,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 694–695. [23] Knute Larson, I & II Thessalonians, I & II Timothy, Titus, Philemon, vol. 9, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000), 24.

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